The situation of land use, forest policy and governance in Viet Nam

Over two-thirds of Viet Nam's natural forests are considered poor quality or recovering quality, while rich and closed-canopy forest constitutes only 4.6 percent (in 2004) of the total and mostly located in the remote mountainous areas. Results of several studies have indicated some key factors driving change to Viet Nam's forests such as rapid economic development, shifting cultivation, inappropriate forest management, and illegal logging.

Clear ownership of land is critical to implementation of REDD+, and the land allocation programme clarifies rights under REDD+ – in many cases the benefits need to be distributed in a transparent and equitable fashion down to the level of individual organizations, households, individuals and other legal economic entities.

There have also been important policy developments related to payments for ecosystem services (PES). Since April 2008, the policy on Payment for Forest Environmental Services has been approved by the Prime Minister and applied to five provinces and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

Under this pilot policy, USAID is supporting the testing of PES in Lam Dong province (in the Central Highlands) through Winrock International, while GIZ is supporting the testing of PES in Son La province (in the Northwest). Under the scheme, hydro-electricity plants will pay VND 20 (0.125 US cents) per kilowatt; water companies VND 40 (0.25 US cents) per litre of water; and ecotourism companies between 0.5 and 2% of revenue. In addition, since October 2007 MARD has launched a program to promote sustainable agricultural cultivation on sloping land and to prevent the conversion of forests into agriculturally cultivated crops by providing 10kg of rice per person per month and preferential interest rate for planting forests and agricultural production. The intention is that lessons from these pilot interventions will be used in developing a national policy over the next few years.

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