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tieng viet First national round table

Hanoi, 14 September 2001

Hosted by the Forest Protection Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and IUCN

This first national round table for the review of protected areas and development in Vietnam brought together some 70 participants including representatives from the four key government partners, professionals from protected areas, donor agencies and non-governmental organisations. The key governmental partners are:

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,
  • The Ministry of Planning and Investment,
  • The Ministry of Fisheries, and
  • The Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment.

The round table provided an opportunity to familiarise the participants with the objectives and activities of the review and provide a forum in which the lessons learned from ten years of protected areas management and development in Vietnam could be identified and discussed. The agenda for the meeting included presentations by key stakeholders in protected areas in Vietnam as shown below. The presentations can be viewed by clicking on the titles.

Working group sessions provided an opportunity for participants to identify and discuss key issues, achievements and challenges in relation to protected areas and socio-economic development and planning. Working groups presented their findings to a special plenary session. The conclusions below summarise key ideas that arose.

Key conclusions - The achievements and challenges for protected area management

Achievements in the past ten years

  • An extensive national network of protected areas has been established with important benefits for biodiversity, forestry and watersheds. They have succeeded in slowing the rate of destruction of Vietnam's forests.
  • The protected areas network is now being expanded to include wetlands and marine areas.
  • Introduction of zonation-based management planning in proposed marine protected areas and at the biosphere reserve at Can Gio offer greater opportunities to engage local stakeholders and allow for various intensities of natural resource use.
  • The Government of Vietnam and national assembly have made a series of resolutions and decisions that afford greater protection to natural resources within protected areas
  • Protected areas establishment can often improve access to funds from national programmes for local authorities.
  • Awareness of the biodiversity and economic importance of protected areas has grown, not only among the public, but also among decision-makers and planners.
  • Protected areas have made a contribution to socio-economic development through their material and non-material benefits, including tourism. Where flexible implementation of protected area management guidelines has been allowed, protected areas can also make important contributions to local livelihoods.
  • Science has benefited through the contribution of protected areas to education, research and training.
  • Vietnam has become a signatory to several important international conventions such as CITES, the Convention on Biological Diversity, RAMSAR and the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Challenges for the future

  • The continued expansion of the protected areas system will bring increasing pressure on over-stretched funding for protected areas.
  • The fragmented nature of the protected areas system creates difficulties for biodiversity conservation and results in high per hectare management costs.
  • Institutional arrangements and policies for protected area management both overlap and leave critical gaps in authority. Thus, there is still a need to greatly improve the policy, legal and institutional framework for protected areas.
  • The difficulty in linking a management approach based on geographic areas and sectoral management is still to be overcome.
  • The ongoing policy of decentralisation requires a greater level of clarity on institutional roles than exists at present.
  • Ways of diversifying stakeholder representation at local level need to be identified if different sectors are to engage in protected areas management and safeguards.
  • Undervaluation of the benefits of protected areas has led to a lack of government investment in the protected areas system.
  • Harmonisation of development and conservation benefits within and surrounding protected areas remains a key challenge.
  • Greater flexibility is needed in available funding mechanisms. The establishment of local environment funds are an option that must be considered.
  • Where financial resources are available, it has not always been clear how to distribute them effectively.
  • Free migration of people to protected areas and buffer zones is common, and significantly adds to pressures on protected areas
  • Many of the economic values of protected areas are exploited unsustainably - for example NTFPs, wildlife and tourism. The challenge is to find ways of balancing economic values with biodiversity conservation objectives.
  • Protected area establishment constrains land use options for the people living in and around them. These communities are often the poorest and most disadvantaged in the country with low levels of awareness, education and access to capital. In these circumstances, local stakeholders have few alternatives other than to engage in 'illegal' activities within the boundaries of protected areas. Ways need to be found to engage local communities more effectively in protected area management.
  • Most protected areas are found in remote areas, where lack of infrastructure and facilities can make both their management, and the 'capture' of their economic values (e.g. through tourism) difficult.
  • Protected area staff in many protected areas have limited capacity and training.
  • It is difficult for Vietnam to meet some international commitments, e.g. its border means it is difficult to control international wildlife trade through Vietnam as required by CITES.

The results of the round table discussions will be fed into the national lessons papers being prepared through the review and into drafting of the national report over the months to come.