Nearly 10,000 Families Boost Income from Forest Environmental Scheme
DALAT, January 21, 2011 - Representatives from Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and Lam Dong province came together today in Dalat for a U.S-funded workshop to share experiences and celebrate successes of Vietnam's Payments for Forest Environmental Services (PFES) scheme that has generated significant resources to support forest protection and local livelihoods.
The Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Program (ARBCP), a project of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), helped Vietnamese officials pilot the PFES scheme in Lam Dong province. The scheme has increased financial incentives for forest protection by the providers of environmental services -- such as rural communities and forest managers -- by creating linkages with the beneficiaries of such services -- hydropower facilities, municipal water supply companies, and ecotourism operators.
During the 2009-2010 pilot phase, the PFES scheme in Lam Dong province generated $4.46 million (over 87 billion Vietnamese Dong) in payments from hydropower plants and tourism businesses in the province and a water company in Ho Chi Minh City into a provincial Forest Protection and Development Fund.
Payments from the fund were disbursed to 22 forest management boards and forestry businesses, as well as to 9,870 households - about 70 percent of which are ethnic minorities -- to conduct forest protection activities. These activities have resulted in enhanced protection of over 200,000 hectares of threatened forest land. In 2010, the average annual payment per household was approximately $540-615 (10.5 - 12 million VND), representing an almost 400 percent increase over previous forest protection payments by the Government of Vietnam. Near the end of the pilot phase, on September 24, 2010, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung officially approved a national PFES Decree.
At the ARBCP close-out workshop in Dalat, USAID Director Mr. Frank Donovan commended the Government of Vietnam for its leadership and foresight in piloting the PES approach. "This is transforming the way forests are viewed and managed in Vietnam," he said. "It also serves as a model for other countries to support biodiversity conservation while channeling needed resources to rural communities."
Beginning in 2011, national roll-out of the PFES Decree is expected to contribute to the protection of over 12 million hectares of forest and the improvement of livelihoods of over 20 million people, many the most marginalized and poor. This is the first such policy in Asia and serves as a model for other countries in the region to develop economically-viable approaches to support conservation and sustainable management of forests and biodiversity. Vietnam's neighbors Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand have also been learning from the Vietnam experience and are now working on implementing similar approaches.