Vietnam Prime Minister approves sustainable forest management and forest certification

At the proposal of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Government of Vietnam announced on 1st October 2018 the decision from the Prime Minister’s Office (#1288/QD-TTg) to approve the project on sustainable forest management and forest certification by establishing the National Forest Certification System for international cooperation with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).   

Mr Bui Chinh Nghia, Director of Forest Development Department, VN Forests addressing a training session in Ha Noi  

This confirms the Vietnamese government’s vision and recognition that Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and certification are totally interconnected and absolutely necessary for the long term health and development of Vietnam’s wood products industry – currently running at $8 billion annually.

The intention of government is to expand, by more than double, the current certified forest area of 235,000 ha with an additional 300,000 ha by 2020, bringing the total to over half a million ha. Commenting for Vifores in Ha Noi, Mr Quyen said, “We welcome this initiative by the government to ensure and demonstrate the country’s sustainable management of its forests”.

A special objective is likely to be group certification for smallholders, while realising that this must be done using a ‘landscape’ approach with 3,000 ha or more as a minimum, which would include rubber plantations. Some pilot projects are already under way in Central Vietnam.

The relevant organisations have therefore now been given the authority and funding to implement the Vietnam Forest Certification Scheme (VFCS) including its international recognition by PEFC. Responding to the announcement Mr Bui Chinh Nghia, director of Forest Development Department, VN Forests said, “We are ready to be the lead implementer and contact point for VFCS.”

Vietnam, through its 886 programmes, has launched the national SFM training programme to prepare. Dr Tran Lam Dong, director of the Silviculture Institute, Vietnam Academy of Forest Sciences added, “In coordinating this training, we will work to build pools of national experts and trainers ready to roll out the Prime Minister’s decision.”

Dr Tran Lam Dong, Director of the Silviculture Institute, Vietnam, Academy of Forest Sciences, implementing training under decision 886 to build national expertise

Commenting on behalf of PEFC International, Richard Laity said, “Since the decision from the Prime Minister we have undertaken two three-day training sessions focusing on smallholder controlled sourcing. I am thankful and proud to be working with stakeholders on the development of feasible smallholder certification processes in Vietnam. We look forward to the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders to achieve profitability leveraging sustainability.”

In summary, this decision finally to set up the VFCS sets out the Vietnamese government’s commitment to a two year mobilisation phase which will need the engagement of all Vietnamese stakeholders’ to work with PEFC International to make it a reality.