Amid strong economic growth, Vietnam's poverty rate has plummeted, and overall forest cover is increasing. However, these successes mask continuing challenges: Forest-dependent people are largely missing out on the new wealth, and the natural forests they rely on continue to disappear.
Land area (ha)
Forest area (ha)(2010)
Annual change rate (ha) 2000-2010
Carbon stock in living biomass
2000 (million tonnes) 927
2010 (million tonnes) 992
Forest under community forestry (public/private)
2008 (million ha) 3.29
2010 (million ha) 3.48
Forest management regimes
Since the early 1990s, Vietnam has made encouraging progress in making its forest sector more participatory and more sustainable. Today, around a quarter of the country's forests have been allocated to local people. Moreover, the country is increasing its forest cover and is a leader in exploring new initiatives such as Payment for Environmental Services (PES) and REDD+.
But despite some successes, achieving efficient, effective, and equitable tenure reform is proving an immense challenge. Forestland allocation goals have only been partially met, and pristine primary forests have nearly disappeared. Many forest-dependent people remain entrenched in poverty. As reforms continue in the context of climate change, a growing population, and a rapidly expanding economy, this decade will be crucial for the future of Vietnam's local people and forests. Scaling up the country's Community Forest Management program will be a key ingredient for success.
RECOFTC has been working in Vietnam for more than 10 years, playing a major role in developing in-country capacity to practice social forestry. Our training curricula are used in the country's forestry universities, and we have directly trained hundreds of the country's forestry professionals. RECOFTC has carried out studies and independent evaluations of Vietnam's forestry policies and programs, including a review of its Community Forest Management pilot program and a national capacity-building needs assessment. RECOFTC is in the process of setting up a full-fledged country program to help ensure Vietnam's continuing community forestry efforts work for both its people and its forests.