Benefit distribution across scales to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in Vietnam
At very high policy levels, efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) are considered to be innovative and cost-effective ways to make forest more valuable standing than cut. In response to climate change, international funding to support reductions in emissions needs to balance conservation and development. The Government of Vietnam is currently coordinating the design of a comprehensive benefit-distribution system, with the ambition to convert certified net emissions reductions into REDD+ revenue and distribute it to local partners in a transparent, equitable and cost-effective manner. A pilot scheme is underway in Bac Kan province. With forest cover of 56.6% and a poverty rate of 36.6%, Bac Kan is among the most heavily forested and poorest provinces of Vietnam, making it a potential site for pioneering REDD+ schemes in the country. Three key concepts formed the research frame for this paper: (1) benefit-distribution systems; (2) reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation (REDD+); and (3) the broader concept of payments or rewards for ecosystem services; as well as lessons learned from existing, similar schemes. The results shows that an appropriate benefit-sharing system for REDD+ revenues can be developed in such a way that meets international regulations as well as national and sub-national circumstances, particularly for the environmental services’ providers who directly protect forests. Vietnam's payments for forest environmental services’ and integrated conservation schemes (where conservation and rural development are integrated) serve as a base for the development of a REDD+ benefit-distribution system.