2018 – 2021
The EU REDD Facility and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) collaboratively developed a pilot, local-level forest monitoring platform that integrates the requirements of three initiatives that aim to protect and sustainably manage forests. These are: 1) the initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancement of carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+), 2) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and 3) Payment for Forest Environmental Services (PFES).
Vietnam is engaged in several initiatives that aim to sustainably manage and protect forests. Various REDD+ projects at the local level are already in the implementation phase. Vietnam is also implementing a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union on FLEGT, which aims to combat illegal logging and promote legal timber trade. PFES, which transfers revenues from hydropower, municipal water and ecotourism companies to households in protection forest areas, is operational and enshrined in the Forestry Law.
Lessons learnt from the EU REDD Facility and FFI project could guide potential replication of local-level forest monitoring efforts in other parts of Vietnam. It could also inform the development of national and subnational forest policies related to REDD+, FLEGT and PFES.
This project aimed to design a subnational forest monitoring tool that integrates REDD+, FLEGT and PFES requirements, thereby improving coordination among stakeholders monitoring forests and forest governance in Vietnam. Lessons learnt from the project could support upscaling of the monitoring tool to provincial and national levels.
The project provided information relevant to the implementation of forest policies. For example, the tool provides a template to carry out the monitoring and assessment of the social, economic and environmental impacts of the implementation of the FLEGT VPA between Vietnam and the EU. The template could also support the collection of information by independent observers to strengthen the system that verifies that wood products conform to Vietnam’s national laws.
The project was built on the REDD+ community-based project that FFI has implemented since 2010 in Hieu Commune, Kon Plong District, Kon Tum Province in the Central Highlands, with initial funding from the EU’s Community Carbon Pools Programme. The REDD+ project was certified by Plan Vivo in December 2020 and hopefully the piloting of the tool can attract additional finance for the project.
Project outputs include:
In 2018, Vietnam had around 14.4 million hectares of forest land, or 44% of its total area. Although its forest area is increasing, this is mostly through the establishment of planted forests. Its natural forests are still being degraded and converted to other land uses.
To address this challenge, Vietnam is implementing REDD+, a FLEGT VPA, and a PFES programme simultaneously at the national level, being one of the few countries to do it. These three initiatives have evolved relatively independently, catalysed by different actors and contexts, and facilitated by diverse stakeholders. Each initiative operates under its own programmatic framework with separate monitoring and reporting requirements. However, despite distinct origins, the three initiatives’ data needs substantially overlap.
It is also clear that the implementation of different monitoring systems will create an unnecessary burden at the local level where resources and capacities are already scarce. At the local forest-unit level, employing multiple systems is inefficient and complex. This is because human resource capacity to gather and process overlapping information and resolving discrepancies in generated datasets is limited. These factors could hinder effective monitoring, reporting and decision making.
A viable, sustainable, realistic and integrated local forest monitoring tool, based on the Vietnamese legal framework, is needed to improve integrated forest and land management and reporting results. Such a monitoring tool would not only improve REDD+, FLEGT and PFES impact, but also facilitate the integration of the sustainable landscape management and governance that the Government of Vietnam and development partners aim for.
To design and test such an integrated forest monitoring tool, three key criteria were considered: data already collected; capacities of local forest owners, managers and data collectors; and indicators that are essential to, unique to, and/or cross-cutting among REDD+, FLEGT VPA and PFES.
Initially selected indicators were refined through an iterative piloting approach at the local level through which information on environmental services payments, implementation process, and programme/project impact was collected by forest rangers, government officials, community members and civil society organisations.
By streamlining collection, analysis, storage and use of data relevant for REDD+, FLEGT and PFES, costs can be reduced and data can be utilised in a cross-cutting manner. The data collected, analysed, stored and shared in a participatory and collaborative system, coordinated by local forest protection departments, could further facilitate appropriate and equitable results-based payments, support improvements in land tenure and forestland allocation, and strengthen law enforcement.