9 January 2013 | Despite having been identified as a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) by the Vietnamese government, the Kon Plong district of Vietnam's Kon Tum province continues to be categorized as a production forest, with unsustainable/illegal logging and conversion to other purposes. The district already contains several large dams and a large area of degraded forest has been lost to reservoir inundation.
It appears that without improved environmental governance in the area, this forest (and the link between existing protected areas and KBAs) will be further degraded and eventually lost.
For this reason, Fauna and Flora International (FFI) program chose Kon Plong to pilot the Vietnam Component of ourDeveloping Community Carbon Pools for REDD+ project. Other programs are being tested in the Philippines, Cambodia, and Indonesia as well.
Kon Tum Province in the Central Highlands region has 420,000 hectares of lowland and mountainous tropical forest, is rich in biodiversity and endemism, and has a mosaic of urban and peri‐urban settlements. The province has the highest percentage of ethnic minorities of any in the country and among the highest poverty rates.
The Kon Plong district is made up of 99% ethnic minorities, largely forest‐dependent peoples. Community forestry and REDD+ project activities target forest communities and the households with forestland the government allocated to them for a 50 year period as recipients. REDD+ carbon pools will be developed based on allocated forestland areas.
FFI aims to protect the High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) found there while developing Community Forest Management(CFM).
Overall, the project has been designed to contribute to reducing deforestation and forest degradation through improved forest governance and the development of finance and incentive mechanisms that provide benefits to forest‐dependent local and indigenous people.
Specifically, the project is designed to connect with emerging national mechanisms around benefit sharing and MRV, as are being developed in Vietnam under UN‐REDD guidance. The project has been designed to build the capacity of local communities and governments to actively participate in REDD+ pilot projects and provide feedback on lessons learned for policy dialogues at sub‐national, national and regional levels.
The project will draw from practical local level experience and seek to influence national and regional policy responses to deforestation and forest degradation.
In terms of policy, FFI and its partner, the Non Timber Forest Products ‐ Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia (NTFP‐EP) has conducted analytical studies on laws and policies related to community forestry and REDD+ in collaboration with environmental lawyers to provide on‐going legal advice on community carbon rights, permitting and licensing systems, and benefit/finance distribution mechanisms in Vietnam.
Supported by national lawyers, FFI will provide legal advice for the development of community forestry REDD+ policies and for the incorporation of social and environmental safeguards into the national and sub‐national REDD+ policy framework.
FFI will undertake socio‐economic studies to define opportunity costs and forest protection costs of local communities, and establish a socio‐economic baseline for the REDD+ pilot project at sub‐national level. Accordingly, an equitable benefit sharing distribution will be developed that will need to integrate into a national system. Mutual learning and sharing are expected to occur, as well as technical support among subnational and national projects through methodologies, training and short term consultancies.
As planned, national REDD+ Working Group and thematic REDD+ workshops are regarded as a platform for sharing important policy issues related to local stakeholder participation. At least two national policy workshops will be convened to introduce proposed REDD+ governance, benefit sharing, community rights and safeguard mechanisms. At a local level, several field visits to pilot projects will be held for national/subnational policy makers to engage local community groups.
Based on VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) and CCB (Climate, Community and Biodiversity) market approach, FFI will facilitate REDD+ Payments for Ecosystem Services mechanisms for community forestry pilots through voluntary markets or fund‐based mechanisms to ensure the flow of financial resources to provide local benefits and sustainability. Based on existing relationships with potential high volume buyers and investors, FFI’s Environmental Markets team will provide site‐specific advice to facilitate engagement of appropriate third‐party carbon investors, brokers or buyers in the projects after the end of the EU‐funded action. This will facilitate community carbon pools’ access to markets or funds.
R(E)L and project scenario models will be built from a range of data, including historical deforestation trends determined through a time‐series analysis using existing satellite imagery and predictive modeling of threats of human population expansion and present management zone designations. The analysis will generate statistically robust ‘avoided deforestation scenario forecasts’, based upon relevant social, environmental and economic data and trends, combined with carbon stock data from the forest.
FFI‐owned Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) for carbon accounting, already successfully tested in Indonesia and the Philippines, will be adapted consistently with emerging national guidelines. Local stakeholders will be provided with trainings and tools for developing participatory forest carbon inventory and monitoring techniques to qualify and quantify rates of deforestation and degradation.
A plan for ongoing monitoring of forest carbon stocks and land use change indicators will be developed, to demonstrate that the project is meeting deforestation reduction targets. Monitoring will include remote sensing and field sampling to measure forest recovery and the effectiveness of forest protection measures. Third party verification of MRV outputs will be undertaken of the monitored results.