First national round table
14 September 2001
Lessons learned on the establishment and development of special-use forests in Vietnam in relation to socio-economic development in the last 10 years
Tran Quoc Bao, Forest Protection Department (FPD), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
The current protected area system
At present there are 92 sites covering a total of 2,123,354 ha accounting for about 7% of the country area (still low in comparison to the IUCN standard). These include :
The latest proposal includes 109 sites with a total area of 2,629,188 ha. However 70% of sites are too small to ensure the integrity of habitats for many animal species (especially large mammals). Also there is a lack of representation of some specific eco-regions (low mountains, wetlands, marine conservation, coral reef conservation).
Special-use forest management
At present there are 9 national parks under direct management of MARD. FPD is assigned to give guidance on professional and specialised issues:
The four remaining national parks and other protected areas are under local management:
There is no focal organisation at MARD to assist the Minister to unite the steering and management of the special-use system. The functional departments often deal with specific areas of responsibilities: planning, financing, infrastructure, development, science and technology, training, professional specialisation, etc. The loosely, non-synchronous, untimely co-operation causes delay in appraisal of investment projects, establishing special-use forests, receiving and deploying projects sponsored by international organisations.
There is a need for a rational and unified management mechanism used by related sectors in special-use system management: from conducting surveys, development of investment projects, appraisal, approval, decision making and budget allocation to giving professional guidance, monitoring, evaluation, inspection and treatment of violations.
Investment mechanisms are often unstable. There are limited funding sources for maintaining the management machinery at at low level. Funding reserved for conservation activities is even more limited. At present, investment projects for about 50% of special-use forests have not yet been prepared.
Management and protection of special-use forests is an issue of socio-economic complexity requiring integrated measures: economic, social, environmental, awareness-raising and law enforcement. Special attention should be paid to the involvement of local people with clear responsibilities and benefits. Particularly at local levels, local authorities should be primarily responsible for the protection of natural resources in their territory.
There needs to be harmonious integration of sectoral and territorial management by using regulations and laws for the common benefit of the country.
The field staff need strengthening in both quantity and quality. They should receive fundamental training (knowledge, public mobilisation skills, law, ability in using a foreign or ethnic language). The rangers need to be supported by appropriate equipment and full integration to the system in order to fulfil assigned tasks and should be satisfactorily treated.
International collaboration plays an important role in the establishment and development of special-use forests. It is important to make use of experience, equipment and finance.