Vietnam has taken a big step towards the development of a national forest certification system in line with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) requirements, following the approval of Decision 83 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), which establishes a Vietnam Forest Certification Scheme (VFCS) Programme.
The government-approved VFCS Programme aims to implement sustainable forest management and forest certification in the country over the period 2016-2020, and appoints key organisations with the required authority and resources to lead implementation. The cornerstone of the programme will be the establishment of a Vietnamese forest certification system, to be developed in accordance with PEFC Council requirements. With this decision Vietnam is taking national ownership of certification.
“To ensure the sustainability of our US$7 billion wood industry, we have an ambitious target to reach half a million hectares under sustainable forest management by 2020, which includes a significant proportion of natural forests and smallholders,” said Le Van Bach from Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VN Forest) of MARD. “We hope that this new Programme will provide a pathway for the international community to support our efforts towards the sustainable production and trade of forests products.”
“With the approval the VFCS Programme to implement sustainable forest management and forest certification to 2020, the government can be assured that the whole PEFC alliance is ready to give its support,” said Ben Gunneberg, CEO of PEFC International.
“We look forward to leading this new approach. Our country has already spent 15 years on forest certification, but progress has been slow, especially when it comes to smallholders,” said Dr Phuong from the Vietnam Academy of the Forest Science (VAFS), the organisation appointed to be a key partner of the Programme. “At VAFS, with 16 regional offices and 700 staff, we already provide technical support nationally, from providing the best germplasm for planting to informing the government on policy requirements. With our network and foundation in forestry techniques, we are now beginning to build capacity on certification, ready to work together with our partners,” continued Dr Phuong.
“With committed organisations such as VAFS, PEFC is very excited to assist and provide technical support, especially for smallholders. Our ongoing collaboration shows how PEFC aims to support the region in meeting the world’s Sustainable Development Goals,” said Richard Laity, PEFC Southeast Asia, Projects & Development officer.
Since the approval, VAFS can officially partner in projects, as it did on 23 January when NGOs including WWF, PEFC, SNV, Farmers Union, Forest Trends, and FLEGT partners such as MARD and District Forest Officers, launched a project by FAO EU-FLEGT programme. This project aims to use the VFCS and PEFC Pilot projects to support market-driven implementation of the Vietnam Timber Legality Assurance System through PEFC Chain of Custody.