Forty-three participants from the five Mekong countries and international partner countries participated in the project inception workshop. The participants represented the regional and national project partners, including RECOFTC, WWF, East West Management Institute - Open Development Initiative, NEPCon, NGO Forum on Cambodia, Lao Biodiversity Association, Myanmar Environment Rehabilitation-Conservation Network, Raks Thai, and PanNature Viet Nam.
Attention has recently been paid to how REDD+ mitigation policies are integrated into other sectoral policies, particularly those dealing with climate adaptation at the national level. But there is less understanding of how subnational policy and local projects are able to incorporate attention to adaptation; therefore, we use a case study in Vietnam to discuss how REDD+ projects and policies address both concerns of mitigation and adaptation together at subnational levels. Through stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and household surveys in three provinces of Vietnam with REDD+ activities, our research sought to understand if REDD+ policies and projects on the ground acknowledge that climate change is likely to impact forests and forest users; if this knowledge is built into REDD+ policy and activities; how households in forested areas subject to REDD+ policy are vulnerable to climate change; and how REDD+ activities can help or hinder needed adaptations. Our findings indicate that there continues to be a lack of coordination between mitigation and adaptation policies in Vietnam, particularly with regard to REDD+. Policies for forest-based climate mitigation at the national and subnational level, as well as site-based projects, have paid little attention to the adaptation needs of local communities, many of whom are already suffering from noticeable weather changes in their localities, and there is insufficient discussion of how REDD+ activities could facilitate increased resilience. While there were some implicit and coincidental adaptation benefits of some REDD+ activities, most studied projects and policies did not explicitly target their activities to focus on adaptation or resilience, and in at least one case, negative livelihood impacts that have increased household vulnerability to climate change were documented. Key barriers to integration were identified, such as sectoral specialization; a lack of attention in REDD+ projects to livelihoods; and inadequate support for ecosystem-based adaptation.
Nguyen Duc To Luu of PanNature Vietnam presented results from the analysis of the cardamom value chain in the districts like Xin Man, where they faced challenges in the unsustainable forest cultivation of resources and the limited access to NTFPs due to existing regulations. The case recognized that key policies surrounding the development and conservation of NTFPs have yet to be strengthened at the national level to establish stronger linkages between stakeholders and some related policies that ensure sustainability in terms of profit and resource management.
Policy is central to successful forest management, and many of our projects are using GFW to inform policymakers and other stakeholders. In Ecuador, Regional Water Fund FORAGUA will improve the local management, monitoring, and enforcement of 11 municipal watershed reserves by providing training on the Global Forest Watch platform to environmental technicians, high school science teachers, and journalists. Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad (Colombia) is developing an online tool to inform local communities of infrastructure mega-projects and their potential impact on priority conservation areas, to enhance decision making and contribute to resolving conflicts. In Vietnam, People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), will use GFW data to monitor and evaluate established payment for environmental services programs within three provinces, and make recommendations to policy makers on how to improve their efficacy. Pronatura will use GFW in order to inform Mexican decision makers on meeting their commitments to global initiatives such as REDD+ and the Bonn Challenge.
Special-use forests (SUFs) are natural protected areas established to conserve the nature and biodiversity of Vietnam. Although the number of SUFs in Vietnam has increased over the years, biodiversity and forest density continues to decline. The Special-Use Forest system of protected area management has been implemented in accordance with ideas of wilderness areas and no-use regimes , and strongly relies on the capacity of state agencies, forest rangers, the military, and police. The state-based preservation of natural resources and biodiversity in SUF areas has been variously evaluated as deficient in a number of areas, including managing conflict between multiple user groups. To overcome these deficiencies, Vietnam has piloted co-management approaches in many SUFs since 2001, and as of 2003 included co-management in its official national strategy for SUF management.
In this context, the Provincial REDD+ Environmental and Social Index (RESI) was developed by the by People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) in collaboration with the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES, Vietnam National University in Hanoi), and Tropenbos International in Vietnam (TBI), with technical support from Dr. Pamela McElwee (Rutgers University, USA). Developed from 2012 to 2015, this index assesses local environmental and social conditions and highlights particular advantages and potential risks in implementing REDD+ at the provincial level.
According to the agreed upon plan, PanNature and other organizations will cooperate on numerous activities to assist VNFOREST in implementing evidence-based research for the proposed Forest Law, which will replace the Law on Forest Protection and Development of 2004. PanNature will also support VNFOREST in establishing the Vietnam's Forest Owners Association.