Sustainable landscape project launched for Central Highlands provinces in Vietnam

This impact story was originally published on Vietnam+ here.

A project to strengthen integrated sustainable landscape management through a deforestation-free jurisdiction in the Central Highlands provinces of Lam Dong and Dak Nong was launched on June 4, 2022.

The project has a total budget of five million EUR funded by the EU through UNDP Vietnam. It will be implemented over four years (2022–2026) in Lam Dong and Dak Nong.

The project’s targets by 2026 are to protect 25,000 hectares of natural forest; reduce harmful CO2 emissions by three million tonnes; enable 35 percent of the project area’s marginalised populations in both provinces to benefit from improved livelihoods, especially women and ethnic minorities; and increase the total value of commodities in the project area by 25 percent.

Its results will be replicated and integrated into Vietnam’s development strategies and policies.

Four international organisations are also providing additional technical assistance to the project: the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, the European Forest Institute, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and the United Nations Environment Programme.

The Central Highlands region has been facing a significant loss of its natural forests due to converting to plantation forests. From 2005 to 2020, the natural forest area in the Highlands was reduced from 2.83 million to 2.18 million hectares.

In addition, the degradation of agricultural lands due to chemical pollution and soil erosion has become extremely serious and has led the Highlands to account for 22 percent of Vietnam’s natural emissions in land use. Each year, approximately 6.8 million of CO2 is released from coffee farms in the Central Highlands from fertilisers, residues, and fuel.

In his remarks at the workshop, Jesus Lavina, first counselor, deputy head of the Cooperation Department of the Delegation of the EU to Vietnam, said: “The project’s three specific objectives – to enhance forest ecosystems, improve livelihoods, and sustain food production – are highly relevant in the Central Highlands and fully aligned with policies and strategies of both Vietnam and the EU. Joining our forces in tackling deforestation and forest degradation will positively impact local communities, including the most vulnerable indigenous peoples who rely heavily on forest ecosystems.”

Patrick Haverman, deputy resident representative of UNDP Vietnam, said the project is designed to use a deforestation-free jurisdictional approach, a holistic framework to demonstrate sustainable development without deforestation in a particular jurisdiction as a key to achieve the expected results.

Haverman also emphasised that the project will make significant contributions to sustainable forestry development in the Central Highlands and implement the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy for 2021-2030 and the recently approved Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development for 2021-2030.

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