United States Supports Forest Conservation under Pilot Environmental Services Policy in Lam Dong Province
Dalat, Vietnam May 11, 2009
The United States Government has provided funding to support forest conservation through Vietnam’s pilot Payment for Forest Environmental Services (PFES) policy, the first of its kind in Asia that encourages investments to protect forests and livelihoods. The Da Nhim and Dai Ninh Hydropower Plants made their first quarterly payments of nearly 12 billion dong (about $680,000) to the Lam Dong Forest Protection and Development Fund. These are the first power facilities or utilities to take advantage of the pilot PFES policy to invest funds with the expectation that the province will use these resources in an appropriate way in local communities to help reduce overall operating costs while preserving forests.
Other companies are expected to invest in the fund that, in turn, will help support rural families who, working closely with local authorities, can choose to plant more sustainable crops or join forces to help reduce illegal logging and deforestation and safeguard forests in priority watersheds of the Dong Nai River Basin.
Provincial officials who manage the fund are examining how these resources can bring the most benefit to community members. Payments will be disbursed to target districts and local communities based on priority conservation targets in the local, district, and provincial conservation and development plans. Monitoring and evaluation will ensure that payments reach beneficiaries and that conservation activities are conducted. The PFES pilot policy promotes investments by hydropower companies, municipal water agencies, and the tourism sector to maintain valuable forest areas while cutting water and electricity costs.
Following the pilot, a full PFES decree would help stimulate local economic growth, public-private partnerships for biodiversity friendly economic activities, and increase financial support for environmental protection. Such a policy could reduce the costs of water and power production for urban areas, provide additional income for thousands of poor families living in forest areas, and provide funds for meeting Vietnam’s National Forest Management and Biodiversity Conservation Action policies.”
Once adopted, a PFES decree could be replicated throughout Southeast Asia. The groundwork for similar programs in Cambodia and Laos has begun.