Forest protection helps highlands communes escape poverty

Thanks to payment received for environmental services (PES), residents of two communes in the highlands province of Lam Dong have escaped poverty.

Households in Lam Dong Province (Photo: Vietnam Government Web Portal)

After two years of conducting a pilot project of PES in two communes, one of several mechanisms for generating sustainable financing for biodiversity conservation, deforestation has reduced along the Da Nhim River in Lac Duong District where people had chopped down many pine trees to grow coffee.

The program rewards local communities involved in conservation activities by allowing them to manage land and resources, and then providing payment for the economically important goods and services that result from their ecological stewardship.

Da Sar commune People’s Committee chairman Ya Tiong said almost all local farmers have been assigned to protect nearly 15,000 hectares of jungle in the commune; they feel proud to be guardians of the jungle, which intensifies their awareness of environmental protection.

Meanwhile, 260 households in Da Nhim Commune agreed to guard over 7.500 hectares of jungle. Da Nhim Hydro Power Plant paid VND290,000 per hectare to each household in 2009.

Lac Duong District People’s Committee said deforestation violations in communes Da Sar and Da Nhim have reduced by half since the program was implemented.

Moreover, each household nets VND8 million by protecting 30 wood hectares annually; they spent the sum on high yielding breeds of coffee, planting vegetables or raising cattle and poultry.

Households stand to earn VND45 million per year through farming.  The rate of impoverished families in Da Sar commune has dropped from 30.35 per cent in 2008 to 14.5 per cent in 2009; meanwhile the poverty rate has reduced from 34.33 per cent to 27.54 per cent in Da Nhim Commune.

The government issued a decision to pay for environmental services in 2008 for the highlands province of Lam Dong, the northern provinces of Son La and Hoa Binh, the central province of Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan, the southern province of Dong Nai and Ho Chi Minh City.

Hydro power plants, water suppliers and tourist companies in the areas with jungles must pay for the services, according to the decision.

By Nam Vien - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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