Forest transition spurs policy shifts in Vietnam

14 October 2014

Vietnam has witnessed a forest transition on a massive scale.

Between 1943 and 1990, the country lost 5 million hectares (ha) of forest, representing fully 28 percent of its total land area. The government responded with reforestation measures—including plantation development, re-categorization of forest, tenure reforms, and enhancing natural forest regeneration—that increased forest cover to almost 40 percent of the land area by 2011.

Nevertheless, Vietnam’s natural forests—and the quality of its forests overall—are still in decline. CIFOR’s study on REDD+ in Vietnam identified key drivers of deforestation as land conversion for agriculture and infrastructure, unsustainable logging, and forest fires. However, other less obvious driving forces are also at play including a growing demand for forest products and land; economic growth; shifting demographic factors; and existing policies that promote unsustainable land-use practices. The remaining ‘primary forests’ are estimated at 80,000 ha in 2010, accounting for only 1 percent of Vietnam’s national area. Vietnam’s remaining natural forests represent the country’s richest biodiversity and carbon stocks, and provide important watershed protection.

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