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Vietnam Earmarks $1.2bn for Forest Protection, Restoration

The plan focuses on improving sustainable forest and environmental management, protection and development along with conservation to increase total forest cover from 2.5 million hectares to 2.72 million hectares by 2030. It's estimated to cost VND28 trillion (US$1.2 billion).

Officials discussed massive deforestation and rampant rule-flouting at a meeting of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development held last week. While violations have dropped slightly this spring, in the Central Highlands the amount of forest lost during the first four months of 2019 was 255.27 hectares, compared with 46.59 hectares during the same period last year. 

Deforestation in the region is a complex problem with a multitude of factors. The land is perfect for lucrative agricultural use. Relatively poor locals and larger companies are tempted to break laws to clear land and establish farms and plantations, coffee in particular. Additionally, small fortunes can be made via illegally obtained lumber. 

The many underlying causes and actors involved in deforestation demand a multifaceted approach to combat it. Ha Cong Tuan, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, instructed local officials to earmark funds for protection and development projects and begin planning measures. According to Tuan, from 2010 to 2015, the Central Highlands suffered the most deforestation in the country.

Efforts have been made to increase the presence of authorities and give them access to new technologies, but the widespread prevalence of corruption has hindered their efficacy. Further economic and land support for local communities is also needed to help de-incentivize encroaching on natural forests. 

Of the US$1.2 billion devoted to the plan, 27% will come from the state budget, 13% from official development assistance (ODA) and the rest from the private sector.  

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