Forest Sector Development Project
The objective of the project is to achieve sustainable management of plantation forests and the conservation of biodiversity in special use forests (SUFs). Additional credit will help finance the costs associated with the: a) continuation and expansion of the smallholder plantation forestry programme in the existing four project provinces of Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Binh Dinh; b) scale up the of the plantation programme in two additional provinces, Thanh Hoa and Nghe An; c) continued institutional development, training, and technical assistance, and policy analysis activities at the national level to deepen the project impacts, and; d)piloting of independent certification of smallholder plantations.
In doing so, the World Bank Forest Sector Development Project aims to achieve poverty alleviation through sustainable forest management; the expansion and better management of Vietnam’s plantation forests and the stimulation of small-scale production forestry, particularly by poor, small-holder farmers.
The global environmental objective of the project’s GEF co-financed component is to conserve biodiversity of global significance in Vietnam’s Special Use Forests (SUFs). This objective will be achieved by: (a) establishing a pilot national SUF financing mechanism (a Conservation Fund) that will provide start-up support, on a competitive basis, to up to 50 poorly-managed SUFs of high biodiversity value to help them design and implement their first conservation management plans; and (b) providing technical assistance support on SUF conservation and management.
The project’s targets include that: 50% of the smallholder plantation area of the project is certifiable according to international standards of sustainable forestry; 30 supported SUFs are under operational management plans of international standards and are managed in cooperation with local communities; 100% of prescribed yields are met; 70% of the plantation area meets project standards, and; procedures are developed and applied in participating provinces.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) performed an environmental assessment (EA) and prepared an environmental management plan (EMP). No pesticides will be procured under the project, and the Environmental Protection Guidelines for the plantation component ensure that critical natural habitats and sites of cultural significance are screened out as part of the site selection process. The project as a whole deals with sustainable forestry development, and the Special Use Forest component specifically addresses measures to improve natural habitats of international importance.
Regarding social safeguards, the project document states that no resettlement and only minor land acquisition is expected. Access tracks to woodlots will be made and some minor expansion of forestry extension offices in the project districts may take place. Since exact impacts cannot be determined beforehand, a draft Resettlement Policy Framework has been prepared by MARD to address any possible impacts mentioned above.
The Resettlement Policy Framework includes a Process Framework for the Special Use Forest component. The Process Framework will assess and address any restrictions in access to natural resources faced by local communities, and provide for remedies to these restrictions on a case-by-case basis. The Process Framework incorporates features of the other social safeguard policy that applies to this project, i.e. OD 4.20 on Indigenous Peoples.
The project document also states that indigenous peoples in the project area will benefit, if they choose to participate in plantation forest. To ensure that ethnic minority communities benefit from the project and are not adversely impacted, a draft Ethnic Minority Development Strategy has been prepared by MARD, under which the plantation component, commune level Ethnic Minority Development Plans will be developed in participatory manner with the communities themselves.