Viet Nam leads way in forest protection

Update: November, 25/2014 - 08:58
Locals plant seeds in Son Duong commune in Quang Ninh province. The payments for Forest Environmental Services programme compensates individuals and communities for providing environmental services. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyet

HA NOI (VNS) — Countries that border the Mekong River can learn from Viet Nam's excellent management of its Payments for Forest Environmental Services programme, said Luca Tacconi, Associate Dean of the College of the Asia and Pacific at Australia's Crawford School of Public Policy.

Tacconi made the statement yesterday in Ha Noi at a seminar on payments for environmental services. Enterprises benefiting from unharmed forests fund the programme in Viet Nam, while in Thailand, for example, the government must provide the funding.

The programme creates incentives for individuals and communities to protect environmental services by compensating them for any costs incurred in managing and providing those services.

In 2004, the Government of Viet Nam, drawing on an internationally recognised system, laid the foundations for a nationwide programme set out in the revised Forest Protection and Development Law.

In 2008, a Government decision created support for pilot projects in Lam Dong and Son La provinces, and in 2011, the programme was implemented across the country.

Viet Nam is the first country in Asia to use the Payments for Forest Environmental Services system nationwide.

Thirty-six of the country's 63 provinces have established steering committees to oversee the programme's implementation.

The programme collects up to US$55 million annually.

Three years after it was set up, it had collected a total of US$150 million for protecting and developing forest areas - and helping residents involved protect the environment.

Nguyen Dac Lam, director of Nghe An Province's Forest Protection and Development Fund, said investors and business owners should be responsible for paying for environmental services.

"It's reasonable to pay to protect nature when you benefit from it," Lam said. — VNS