In 2010 Vietnam had around 44% forest cover, more than a 50% increase since 1990 when forest cover was less than 30%. Despite an overall increase in forest area over recent years various regions of Vietnam still have high rates of deforestation and forest degradation, and fragmentation is occurring throughout the remaining natural forests. There has been considerable work undertaken in Vietnam to get ready for REDD, and the country is advancing across many areas.
Vietnam is currently in the implementation phase of the UN-REDD programme and has received USD 4.38 million to assist the Vietnamese government to get ready to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Vietnam also presented its R-PP to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in October 2010 and has requested an additional USD3.6 million from the FCPF to support REDD readiness in the country. Vietnam has a number of plans, policies and laws that support REDD activities, including the National Target Program to Respond to Climate Change, which aims to assess the impact of climate change on Vietnam, identify measures to combat climate change, and strengthen the capacities of organizations involved in responding to climate change. The National Target Plan also commits to working with the international community to mitigate the effects of Climate Change.
Although REDD in Vietnam is being driven by the national government, subnational activities are taking place that will influence countrywide outcomes. For example, the Cat Tien Landscape pro-poor REDD project supports local institutions to establish a forest carbon monitoring programme that can compensate local villagers as well as reducing deforestation and degradation in the Cat Tien National Park. Other sub-national activities include capacity building for district and provincial officials who will be in charge of implementing essential REDD functions such as a benefit distribution system and carbon monitoring methodologies.
Management and coordination
REDD activities in Vietnam are coordinated through the National REDD Steering Committee, established by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in January 2011, upon the instruction of the Prime Minister. In the same Decision, the Vietnam REDD Office was established under the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST). The Vietnam REDD Office is the focal agency for REDD and is responsible for coordinating all REDD efforts and activities. VNFOREST reports on the progress of REDD activities to the National REDD Steering Committee of the NTP-RCC. Stakeholder consultation has been established across institutions through the National REDD Network. The National REDD Network, set up in September 2009, is an open-ended stakeholder forum chaired by the Government, with participants including Government departments and agencies, international organisations, and non-government organisations.
Stakeholder engagement and participation
The National REDD Network coordinates stakeholder engagement for REDD at the national level in Vietnam. The REDD Network meets on a quarterly basis and membership is open to any group. Its members include the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and its sub-departments, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and the Office of the Government of Vietnam. International development partners also participate in the REDD Network and include JICA, GTZ, The Asian Development Bank (ADB), The World Bank, the government of Norway, the Nordic Agency for Development and Ecology, Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and CARE international. In addition research institutions, such as ICRAF and Research Centre for Forest Ecology and Environment (RCFEE), universities and national and international NGOs are involved. The Forest Sector Support Partnership, established in 2001, provides the Secretariat for both the National REDD Network and the REDD Working Group. Under the REDD Network, a Technical Working Group shares knowledge and information on the technical aspects of REDD. There are four sub-working groups, which cover REDD governance, MRV, financing and benefit distribution and local implementation of REDD. This structure facilitates stakeholder consultation as well as capacity building and awareness raising at provincial and district-levels to ensure that those requiring information about REDD have access to it.
In designing REDD implementation under the UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme, the Vietnamese government has engaged in a process of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). For example a series of extensive consultations were held with local ethnic groups in the two pilot districts of Lam Ha and Di Linh in Lam Dong province. The government of Vietnam will use the results of this process to decide how to proceed with planned activities under the UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme. The FPIC activities have been independently evaluated and verified by the Center for Peoples and Forests (RECOFTC).
Rights and tenure
The Constitution of Vietnam states that all forest resources (including land, trees, and wildlife) are owned by the people; the government, on behalf of the people, legally entrusts the management of forests to specific groups. At present eight types of forest “owner” (effectively leaseholders) are recognized in Vietnam: state enterprises, joint venture enterprises, individual households, management boards for forest protection, management boards for special-use forest, army units, people’s committees and collectives. These eight stakeholder groups are represented in three forest tenure arrangements: Private tenure applies to the first three stakeholder groups listed above, and is the most common form of tenure. Forest is allocated to its tenure-holder for long-term management (typically 50 years). Most forest tenure holders under this arrangement are entitled to a legal land-use certificate. State tenure applies to groups 4-7 in the list above. Forests are typically allocated for an unspecified period. For special-use or protection forests, the tenure holders are entitled to receive State budget for their management. Common tenure is found in forest managed by collectives that are legally recognized by the State. Currently, only a small area of forest falls under the common tenure arrangements. Despite these arrangements, a recent UN-REDD study into options for a REDD Benefit Distribution Study concluded: “Vietnam’s current distribution of forestland tenure does not currently provide the required basis for an effective, efficient and equitable distribution of REDD benefits. Moreover, Vietnam will need to find ways to resolve disputes over forestland”.
Compliance (incentives and enforcement)
Vietnam has a number of laws and policies on forest law enforcement. The Law on Forest Protection specifies a range of prohibited acts, including illegal logging; forest destruction; encroachment on forest land; illegal forest products transport; illegal grazing; and various other practices. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has the main responsibility for ensuring compliance with forest protection. As part of an effort to improve progress on law enforcement MARD and the European Commission (EC) have established a joint Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Working Group. Vietnam and the EC reached an agreement in August 2010 to prepare a Voluntary Partnership Agreement. Part of the National Strategy includes enforcement of planning and environmental requirements. It suggests undertaking regular checks of the quality of EIAs to ensure they adhere to high standards, including safeguarding policies. The REDD pilots will also make appropriate law enforcement a central component of project design from the beginning. They will indicate ways to determine the liability of forest managers under different circumstances.
Vietnam is also the forerunner in South-East Asia in establishing a legal framework for payment for environmental services schemes. Decree No. 99 of 2010 on the Policy for Payment for Forest Environmental Services establishes an obligation upon various users of forest environmental services to pay service providers for their use, and outlines a detailed framework for the implementation of this obligation.
Following work being carried out in Vietnam with international assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Embassy of Finland, reference levels are to be developed for all carbon related activities within the scope of REDD. Vietnam will use an historical reference level for deforestation rates dating back to at least 1990 and potentially dating further back using data from NOAA AVHRR. Generation of reference levels for forest degradation has been deemed more complex and Vietnam is considering foregoing accounting of historical emissions from forest degradation, as the level of detail and coverage of available data is difficult to match with current data sets and information. Vietnam intends to adopt a national approach on the REDD implementation to address domestic leakage. It is likely, however, that project-based or stepwise approach will be carried in the short run due to availability of the financial and technical support from international development partners and capacity of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST). Sub-national reference levels will be developed based on stratification of the national territory into more homogeneous eco-regions. Vietnam will develop projected reference levels for carbon stock enhancement based on bio-physical responses of forests for each of the eco-regions factoring in sub-national socio-economic conditions per province. Planned or predicted developments as laid down in the Social and Economic Development Plan SEDP and the Forest Development Strategy over the period until 2020 will be considered in preparing reference emissions levels. In particular the regional effects of REDD implementation on the wood processing industry (which imports up to 80% of its raw material, mostly from Asian countries also establishing national REDD programs).
At a project level, there are many activities taking place in Vietnam to support the establishment of reference levels. For example, the Embassy of Finland has developed a project to collect and organize comprehensive information to improve Vietnam’s existing digital forest inventory database. This will lead to initial estimates of Vietnam's forest carbon stock and culminate with the establishment of the first Interim Baseline Reference Scenarios.
Also, Vietnam participated in the USAID LEAF Programme's regional training workshop for national REL development, in August 2011.
Following paragraph 71 of the Cancun Agreements on safeguards, Vietnam’s proposed MRV Framework does include a Safeguards Information System. The system will gather information on current legislation relating to land-use and indigenous peoples’ rights as well as on measures the government is taking to promote these. It is intended that this system will help to secure the full and effective participation of all relevant stakeholders and be operated through a web portal in order to ensure full and open access to information (Draft MRV Framework Document, at 33-34).
The UN-REDD Programme globally will produce tools and guidance to assess biodiversity and ecosystem services in reforested areas, with the aim to support the realization of co-benefits from the major reforestation effort underway in this country. This will include simple tools for identifying which ecosystem services could be important in reforested areas, and guidance on selecting approaches for assessing and monitoring change in services.
The R-PP suggests that improved legal safeguards are needed in Vietnam to prevent further damage to national forests. It also calls for a more robust Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regime, with more effective punishment for people or companies that fail to comply with environmental safeguards. The R-PP also urges that safeguard procedures be integrated into the MRV system, with emphasis on the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem services and other social and environmental benefits.
Vietnam faces several challenges in developing a robust and transparent MRV system. The World Bank has noted that, unlike many countries, Vietnam does not routinely monitor forest cover change using spatial technologies, and the Government of Vietnam (GoV) itself has stated that the country’s “statistical information on forest data is inconsistent and questionable.” (R-PIN)
However, significant progress is being made towards addressing current gaps. An MRV Framework Document is currently under development, a third draft was released in September 2011. Moreover, a Sub-Technical Working Group (STWG) on MRV and REL development, comprised of representatives of VNFOREST, the Forest Science Institute of Vietnam (FSIV) and several other national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations has been established to assess MRV options. By the end of Phase I of its UN-REDD Programme, Vietnam expects to have defined and proposed the institutional structure to begin working on all elements of MRV, initiated capacity building in all relevant institutions, and defined national policies and measures. By the end of Phase II, the country hopes to have collected sufficient activity data and developed the appropriate emissions factors to be able to prepare its national REDD+ GHG inventory based on Tier 2 estimates and to have developed a monitoring system and methodology sufficient to ensure Phase II demonstration activities are results-based. In Phase III the MRV system is to be fully operational and accountable at the international level, including the use of Tier 3 methodologies.
The proposed measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) system in Vietnam will closely follow the guidelines defined by the UNFCCC. Data will be measured through participatory carbon monitoring for households, communes and community forestry management groups. The field data collection will be supplemented by satellite based monitoring. It is proposed all relevant stakeholders will gain access to data and information through a web-based interface. Reporting will be managed through a national data infrastructure for the MRV system. The main tool for communication will be the internet and the mobile phone network, both readily available and relatively easy to implement in Vietnam, except in the most remote areas. The government of Vietnam will establish a procedure to verify that the reported emission reductions and removals meet the criteria of the UNFCCC. The verification based on the MRV system data will be supplemented by analysis of high- resolution satellite imagery on a sampling basis. The UN-REDD Programme in Vietnam has organized various activities on MRV with stakeholders in Ha Noi and in the pilot province of Lam Dong. Piloting of participatory carbon monitoring at the commune and individual household level has included an evaluation of options and learning from experiences with community forestry management experience in Dak Nong province. Further to this, a draft of guidelines for the implementation of participatory carbon monitoring has been developed; field testing of the participatory carbon monitoring guidelines started in November and December 2010, and full piloting of participatory carbon monitoring is expected in the two pilot districts in the first half of 2011. Through the FAO and Finland's Forestry Cooperation Programme, the National Forest Inventory program will be undertaken, with the objective of estimating biomass under the National REDD+ Program. The UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme is in the process of defining its Phase II activities, which are expected to include implementation and training for an MRV system for six provinces.
Vietnam is a densely populated, developing country in South East Asia of which 44% is forested. The forests in Vietnam are made up of 74% naturally regenerated forest, 25% of plantation forest and 1% of primary forest. Vietnam is a highly biodiverse country, with 1534 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles. Of these, 8.2 percent exist in no other country. Between 1990 and 2000, Viet Nam gained an average of 236,200 hectares of forest per year, with deforestation rates for primary cover forests decreasing by 77.9%. However, despite an overall increase in forest area since the early 1990s, various regions of Viet Nam – including the Central Highlands, the Central Coast and the East of southern region – still have high rates of deforestation. Between the years of 2005 and 2010, the annual change rate of forest cover was 1.08%. The drivers of deforestation in Vietnam are varied. They include infrastructure improvement to support a rapidly developing economy, as well as forested areas being converted to agricultural cultivation to support the lives of rural Vietnamese, which make up 71.7% of the population. Illegal logging is a continuing problem. There is an estimated 30 - 50,000 forest violations per year, very few of which result in criminal prosecution. Vietnam’s economy continues to grow, with GDP for 2010 being USD 91.8 billion. Its major industries are food processing, garments, shoe making, mining, coal and steel making. Vietnam’s main agricultural products are rice, coffee, rubber, cotton and tea.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is the key government agency in Vietnam. MARD is the focal point for REDD activities and has a number of departments and directorates that aim to ensure that REDD readiness activities take place. Other government institutions involved in REDD activities include the Ministry for Nature Resources and Environment, the Ministry for Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Finance. Each of these ministries feed information into the National Steering Committee of the National Target Plan to respond to Climate Change, which is chaired by the Prime Minister.
At the international level, the UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme is the largest effort to support the government with its REDD activities. UN-REDD includes the FAO, UNDP and UNEP, who each contribute to different outputs. UN-REDD also supports other IGOs who are implementing or have implemented REDD activities in Vietnam. These institutions include JICA, GTZ, SNV, the World Bank and German Development Bank. As major funders of REDD and other development projects the Embassy of Finland and the Embassy of Norway are also important institutions in Vietnam. Many NGOs are also active in Vietnam, including Tropenbos International, Winrock International, ICRAF, and SRD. The REDD Network and the Forest Sector Support Partnership, which any institution that is involved in REDD activities in Vietnam can join, help to coordinate these organisations.
Vietnam has a number of laws that support REDD activities including the Land Law, the Law on Environmental Protection, the Law on Biodiversity, and the Law on Forest Protection and Development. These laws provide guidance on land rights and tenure, and the types of development that can take place on land as well as enforcement measures for those who break the law. The law on biodiversity also has provisions that create a framework for the implementation of PES activities.
However, ownership of carbon in and prospective carbon credits from forests is as yet unclear in Vietnam. Many Special-use and Protection Forests are managed by management boards which, as non-profit and state-funded bodies, are not eligible to enter into economic transactions. This makes the establishment of voluntary or other carbon projects on forest land under their management legally difficult. This issue is being actively discussed, including in the recent meeting of the STWG on Private Sector Investment. It has also been raised in the STWG on the establishment of a Benefit Distribution System. Senior government officials are reported to be supportive of the further development of the appropriate legal frameworks for the accommodation of the voluntary market, and MONRE is in discussions with MARD for developing an interim policy framework to govern REDD+ pilot projects.
Plans and policies
While the term REDD is not mentioned specifically, Vietnam has a number of plans and policies that support efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The key policy instrument to combat climate change that underpins REDD policy development in Vietnam is the National Target Plan to Respond to Climate Change. This plan commits the Vietnamese government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and also sets a target to increase forest cover from 44% to 47% by 2020. Aligned, but separate to this plan is the Viet Nam Forestry Development Strategy, which lays out a strategy for 2006 – 2020. The strategy pays particular attention to rights, tenure and enforcement issues and sets an objective for calculating and monitoring forestry and land inventories in Vietnam. Another significant plan is The Action Plan Framework for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Agriculture and Rural Development Sector, which sets out a number of goals for the period 2008-2020 including an increase in the capacity of Vietnam to mitigate and adapt to climate change threats. Supporting and reinforcing the National Plans, Vietnam also has more specific policies that support REDD activities in the country. One of the most significant policies, implemented in 1998, is the Five Million Hectare Reforestation Program (Decision 661). Decision 661 was implemented to rapidly increase forest cover in Vietnam by establishing five million hectares of new forest. It is also the first example of a payments for environmental services scheme in Vietnam and thereby supports designs of a benefit distribution system for REDD activities in Vietnam.
To date there are a range of activities involving different organisations underway in Vietnam ranging from national level programmes to district and commune level projects. Few of these activities cover every element of REDD, with most focussing on just one or two such as Monitoring Reporting and Verification or reference levels. The UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme with a budget of a USD 4.3 million is the largest and arguably most comprehensive activity taking place. The UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme aims to support the Vietnamese government’s plans to become ‘REDD ready’ by 2012. To do this, it supports many REDD-related activities in Vietnam, including MRV, reference levels, benefit distribution systems, and capacity building. The UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme is also coordinating pilot activities in two districts of Lam Dong Province in Vietnam - Di Linh and Lam Ha. Also at the national level, FAO is about to begin a USD 2.8 million project to collect and analyse forest information for Vietnam to develop a REDD reference level and MRV system. This complements and builds on a long-term JICA REDD project that is designing reference levels for Vietnam. At the sub-national level the Cat Tien Landscape pro-poor REDD project is working in four communes to support local institutions to establish a forest carbon monitoring facility that is able to compensate local villagers to an extent that will reduce degradation and deforestation in the landscape surrounding the Cat Loc section of Cat Tien National Park. Other subnational activities include capacity building projects for climate change mitigation and adaptation for civil society in Vietnam focusing on NGOs and their partners.
Funding for REDD activities in Vietnam is generally fragmented and bilateral. The major funding sources in Vietnam are the UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme and the governments of Finland, Norway and Japan. The UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme has received funding of USD 4.4 million from the Multi Donor Trust Fund. Of this USD 2.0 million has been disbursed, up to June 2010. JICA is providing approximately USD 3.3 million for a study on REDD priority areas and has a REDD demonstration project planned for 2011. The Finland Cooperation Programme is providing USD 2.8 million for a FAO National Forest Assessment project and the Government of Finland is providing USD 2.3 million to other REDD activities in Vietnam. Other donors include the Darwin Initiative and the European Commission that are funding REDD projects in Vietnam. The recent Readiness Preparation Proposal formulated under the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility has also requested USD 3.6 million to assist in REDD readiness activities; this funding is yet to be disbursed. The national government is also funding domestic action for the implementation of the National REDD+ Program. Support is currently being provided through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and other government agencies, provincial and district authorities, and through parastatal organizations. While the current level of domestic financing for REDD is difficult to assess, the Ministry of Finance aims to improve the monitoring of financial flows for REDD.