USAID Supports Lower Mekong Workshop on Strategies to Reduce Deforestation
HANOI, May 6, 2010 -- Forty representatives from government forestry agencies and non-governmental organizations in the Lower Mekong countries of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam convened today for a U.S-funded workshop to share experiences and build a common vision for reducing deforestation in the region.
Participants at this two-day regional workshop on "Building Lower Mekong Subregion Collaboration in National REDD Strategies" discussed current efforts to develop national REDD programs, identified capacity gaps and examined further cooperation and collaboration within the region.
"It is clear that reducing deforestation is a key strategy to help address and slow the effects of climate change," said U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Virginia Palmer, at the workshop opening. "Climate change already is having an impact on many aspects of our economies and societies. Tackling this important global issue requires all of us to plan and act together with all the resources at our disposal."
Plans to form a global mechanism to financially support developing countries to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, known as REDD, was a key result of the Copenhagen negotiations, where in December 2009 the United States Government committed $1 billion to support forest conservation in developing countries over the next three years.
The event was organized by the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Program, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Winrock International.
Following the workshop, additional technical trainings funded by USAID will be conducted in each country to help Lower Mekong countries build technical capacities to implement REDD.
According to Dr. Nguyen Tuan Phu, Deputy General Director of the General Department of Forestry in Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, forests in Vietnam are home to 25 million people, most of whom are "ethnic minorities and poor." Noting the Govenrment of Vietnam's commitment to combating climate change and sustainable forest management, he said government policies and programs had brought about an increase in forest cover form 28 percent in 1990 to 39.7 percent in 2008.
"Nevertheless, loss and degradation of forests are still taking place in some areas and quality of forest resources is still dwindling," he told the workshop.
# # #