Economic opportunities from sustainable natural forest management

A high-level forum on realising economic opportunities from sustainable management of natural forests was organised by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Central Economics Committee, and the United Nations with the support of the UN-REDD Programme and other partners including the Viet Nam Private Sector Forum. This forum was attended by representatives from government ministries, business associations, enterprises, financial institutions, international organizations, and forest owners.

Viet Nam’s Target Programme for Sustainable Forest Development for the 2016-2020 period was introduced at the forum. The country’s National Action Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, sustainable management of forest resources and conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) by 2030 was also discussed.

National experts and enterprises presented and discussed their experiences, opportunities, challenges and recommendations for the sustainable management of natural forests, while exploring economic opportunities including ecotourism, medicinal plants and non-timber forest products.

Tore Bustad, Flickr

One of the main recommendations coming out of this forum was to develop markets and partnerships for natural forest-based economic models. It was felt that financial resources should be mobilized while revenue and expenditure regulations should be directed to encourage businesses to invest in economic models based on natural forests. Other recommendations included improving national policies and strengthening of monitoring and evaluation systems at local and national level.

"Forest protection and development is the most important solution that Viet Nam needs and can implement to ensure sustainable development of the national economy," said Member of the Party’s Central Committee and Standing Vice-Chairman of the Central Economics Committee Mr. Cao Duc Phat. He also emphasized the need for awareness and active participation of the community and businesses.

Speaking at the forum, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam Kamal Malhotra stated that, “A major transformation will be required to build an enabling environment for domestic and international businesses to thrive in and benefit from investing in sustainable natural-forest development.” He went on to state that, “The UN will remain an important strategic and committed partner of the Government of Viet Nam to further strengthen the sustainable management of forests in collaboration with the domestic and international business sector to achieve mutual benefits.”

Forests cover approximately 41 percent of Viet Nam’s national territory. Of this, 71 percent are natural forests, while 29 percent are forest plantations. According to experts, the value addition and contribution of forests to the national economy has not been fully captured by the national accounting system. Forest contribution to national GDP is currently accounted as a very modest 1 percent approximately. The country set targets for increasing the value of forest production to about 3.5 percent annually, and the GDP from forestry from 2 to 3 percent of the national GDP.

Natural forests provide valuable timber and non-timber products, and offer many critical and invaluable services, which includes water and soil protection for agriculture, electricity production, urban consumption and mitigation of climate change by capturing CO2. Natural forests also help increase the resilience of vulnerable rural communities to impacts of climate change.

Sharing their experience, Sapanapro company informed that, the Red Dao ethnic people were collecting herbal plants and researching herbal products in the Sa Pa town using their traditional knowledge of herbal medicine; 73 percent of the households there overcame poverty and about 900 ha of watershed forest were monitored and protected. “Forests have provided support to the Red Dao people, generation after generation. So, it is important to balance the benefit people gain with protection of the natural forests they live in,” stated Director of Sapanapro Nguyen Ba Nhung.

Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway Ms Siren Gjerme Eriksen mentioned that preserving and maintaining natural forests is crucial to achieving some of the key sustainable development goals.

A fundamental challenge is the market’s failure to curb private profiteering, while society bears the cost of destroying natural forests. “We will need to fix this problem. We need to look into it sector by sector and make sure that those who use forests use it sustainably, or pay the bill for the costs generated by their activities,” said Executive Director of UN Environment Erik Solheim.

Jointly convened by the UN Development programme (UNDP), UN Environment (UNEP) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the National UN-REDD Programme has been working closely with the Government of Viet Nam for the development of relevant policies and mechanisms, as well as overall readiness and preparation of a national action plan for REDD+ implementation.

For more information:

Hoang Viet Dung, Communication Officer, UN-REDD Viet Nam Phase II Programme.

Phan Huong Giang, Media and Communications Analyst, United Nations Development Programme.

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