|A local farmer waters seedling trees. Twenty communes in central provinces plan to undertake forest restoration following a WWF programme. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyet
QUANG NAM (VNS) — Twenty communes across the central provinces of Quang Nam and Thua Thien Hue will undertake forest restoration activities under a programme launched by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) recently.
The launch of the programme, called "Preservation Carbon Sinks and Biodiversity Conservation Programme" (‘CarBi'), took place via a planting ceremony held in Ta Lu Commune, Dong Giang District, Quang Nam province.
The vital reforestation programme will take place in the Truong Son Mountain range that divides Viet Nam and Laos.
"WWF aims to connect these fragmented forests in the Truong Son Mountain range to provide natural corridors which will facilitate safe migration routes for the area's unique species, including the very rare sao la.
"The planting of indigenous trees is one of the many steps taken by WWF through its CarBi project to restore the integrity of this unique biodiversity treasure," said Dr. Le Thuy Anh, Truong Son Mountain range Landscape Manager with WWF-Viet Nam.
During the planting season, indigenous tree species will be planted over 200 hectares, and forest regeneration activities will be carried out over 430 hectares in priority areas in both provinces.
Another 250 hectares of indigenous trees will be planted, and 2,970 hectares will be regenerated in the 2014 planting season.
The Truong Son Mountain range is one of the areas that has the highest level of biodiversity both regionally and globally, with many rare and endemic species including the sao la, douc langur, Truong Son muntjac, large antlered muntjac and striped rabbit.
However, the forest is now threatened by fragmentation, especially by illegal logging and wildlife trade, as well as unsustainable farming and forestry practices.
Habitats that become fragmented are a major threat to the natural ‘corridors' in the forest that enable species to move around and mate. These corridors are fundamental to the survival of the unique species in this biodiversity hotspot, many of which are being pushed to the edge of extinction. Without active efforts to restore the forest, the ecosystem will not recover, WWF experts said.
The Forest Restoration Component of CarBi is a community-based forest protection strategy, implemented in partnership with local households who will take responsibility for regenerating the forest on which their livelihoods depend.
The selected households work closely with project staff, getting involved in identifying planting areas, and reaching consensus on the most appropriate tree species to plant and how to manage the reforestation process.
This active involvement of local communities in the managed regeneration of the forest is a crucial aspect of the CarBi programme's philosophy, aimed at the diversification and enhancement of local people's livelihoods, and bringing a sense of ownership as well as financial reward to participants.
"The sustainable management, protection, development and use of natural resources is key to the socio-economic development strategy of Quang Nam Province," said Phan Tuan, Director of the provincial Forest Protection Department.
"The provincial Forest Development Plan of 2015 –2020 contains a target to ensure 52 per cent of Quang Nam is covered by forest. Therefore, alongside the province's efforts to reach this target, we highly appreciate the contribution of organizations like WWF.
"This kind of activity helps to raise awareness among local people about protecting and developing forest in their own areas, as well as providing more income for them," Tuan added.
Participating households are given quality seedlings and fertilizer, which will ensure successful establishment of the new forest, while CarBi and government field staff monitor and supervise their work.
They also receive training in transporting, planting and tending to the seedlings, and earn payment for their work in planting and tending to the forest through savings accounts funded by CarBi, set up at district branches of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Through these reforestation activities, the programme seeks to create employment and enhance livelihood resilience among the people most dependent on the forest, while preserving the environment for the astonishing range of species native to the region. — VNS