More than 40% of Vietnam’s land area is classified as forest, and it is one of the 20 most biodiverse countries globally. As a result of the nation’s ambitious reforestation and land allocation programmes since the 1990s, overall forest cover has increased significantly, mainly due to major expansion of planted forests. Vietnam is the only Mekong country that has reported a continuous forest cover increase over the past few decades. The Government’s plans to achieve a target of 45% forest cover by 2030.
Despite this progress, Vietnam still faces challenges in its forest and land use sector. Natural forest loss continues and the quality of Vietnam’s forests has deteriorated, threatening biodiversity and ecosystem services. The ecosystem services and commodities provided by its forests support economic development and climate change mitigation and adaptation, while also supporting the livelihoods of the 25 million people who live in or near forests. These include many ethnic minority groups living in remote, upland areas.
Deforestation and forest degradation occur in many localities due to agricultural expansion, legal and illegal logging, development of hydropower and other infrastructure, and forest fires. The Central Highlands region contains some of the country’s most biodiverse and carbon-rich forests but deforestation rates are high. Forests are threatened by demand for commodity crops such as coffee and rubber.
In recent years, the Government of Vietnam has made considerable progress in tackling forest and land-use challenges. For example, Vietnam is one of very few countries to implement REDD+ Readiness, a FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), and payments for ecosystem services (PES) simultaneously. The country is a regional champion of PES and has a nationally regulated Payment for Forest Environmental Services (PFES) system that transfers revenues from hydropower, municipal water, and ecotourism companies to households in protection forest areas. Vietnam became the first Asia-Pacific country to complete the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ and has a revised, strengthened National REDD+ Action Plan. In 2019, Vietnam’s Voluntary Partnership (VPA) with the EU was ratified, to combat illegal logging and promote legal timber trade.
Agricultural development in a newly cleared forest area in Kon Plong District, Kon Tum Province, Vietnam by Jeremy Broadhead, EU REDD Facility
EU REDD Facility work in Vietnam
We work with partners at the national and subnational level in Vietnam to support improvement in forest and land-use governance, which contributes to the achievement of the country’s climate, biodiversity, economic, and social development targets.
Our focus is on:
- Clarifying and strengthening legal and policy frameworks in reducing deforestation.
- Enabling sustainable, deforestation-free land management and green investment at the subnational level.
Improving legal and policy frameworks
Newly promulgated laws are contributing to improved forest management in Vietnam. To help achieve sustainable forest and land management, we are identifying gaps and clarifying relevant provisions in these laws. We aim to further support their implementation by creating linkages with jurisdictional monitoring frameworks and defining potential improvements regarding forest conversion and land tenure.
Many REDD+ pilots have been implemented, including with the Facility’s support. However, REDD+, PFES and FLEGT-related initiatives remain comparatively disconnected. We have been working to strengthen synergies between these initiatives, including through developing more robust and efficient monitoring frameworks.
Discussing the Land-use Planner with partners in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong by Satrio Adi Wicaksono, EU REDD Facility
Sustainable land management
Our subnational work to support sustainable land management currently focuses on the Central Highlands and follows earlier work in Northeast Vietnam to empower upland communities in sustainable natural forests management via collective governance structures. Together with partners, we are testing sustainable landscape approaches in two Central Highlands provinces to help establish deforestation-free jurisdictions. Part of this initiative involves tracking and mapping public and private finances related to sustainable land use and climate change using the Facility’s Land-use Finance Tool. An earlier initiative mapped and analysed planned public investments in land use across all five provinces in the Central Highlands. We are also supporting participatory and inclusive local-level land-use planning using the Land-use Planner, which is also available in Vietnamese.
Vietnam's FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement
In 2010, Vietnam and the EU began negotiations towards a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to improve forest governance and ensure that only legal timber and timber products reach the EU market. In 2018, Vietnam and the EU signed the VPA, which entered into force in June 2019. Vietnam is now working on regulations, systems and capacities needed to implement the country's timber legality assurance system.
For more information, see the Vietnam page on the EU FLEGT Facility's website.