Smallholders Lead the Way on PEFC Certification in Viet NamJun 15 2015
There is urgent need for government, donors and industry to support the newly established Vietnamese Forestry Certification System in order to meet the government’s ambitious forest certification targets, especially given the vast amount of smallholders in the country. It is therefore essential to ensure that certification is an affordable, accessible and realistic option for uptake throughout Viet Nam’s forest sector, including smallholders.
This is one of the outcomes of the ‘Furthering PEFC: Challenges and Opportunities for Smallholders Using a Cooperative Model’ workshop in Hue, Viet Nam at the end of May, which brought together more than sixty stakeholders from across the forestry sector.
Participants also highlighted PEFC’s smallholder pilot project, which focusses on strengthening forest producer organizations. Such organizations have an important role to play in enabling and facilitating smallholder certification.
The workshop was opened by Dr. Phuong, Head of International Cooperation and Training in VAFS under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, outlining the road map to advance sustainable forest management certification in Viet Nam. Dr. Phuong, who is responsible for coordinating the formation of the Vietnamese Forestry Certification System, also announced their hopes for a PEFC-endorsed national system by the end of 2016.
“Although the Vietnamese government is aiming for two million hectares certified by 2020, we currently have less than 150,000 ha, of which only 2000 ha are owned by smallholders,” said Dr. Phuong. “This, and the fact that around half of our country’s plantations are smallholder-owned, shows why it is urgent that the government, donors and industry support the newly established Vietnamese Forestry Certification system.”
“We have a massive task ahead of us and we are now focused on refining our tools to ensure certification is an affordable, accessible and realistic option for uptake throughout Viet Nam’s forest sector,” continued Dr. Phuong.
Complimenting national ambitions is PEFC’s smallholder pilot project ongoing in Thua Thien Hue and Quang Tri Provinces focused on strengthening forest producer organizations. The project is building capacity of smallholders, cooperatives and provincial cooperative alliances in central Viet Nam, through the twinning support of Finnish forest owner associations and PEFC International and the financial support from Agricord.
During the workshop, Dr. Ha, Senior Lecturer at Hue University and Coordinator for the Agricord Cooperative Alliance/PEFC Pilot Project, took the opportunity to share a mid-term evaluation from the project. “Some cooperatives have very profitable nurseries while others have very strong harvesting teams, it depends on the situation, however they all understand that having a sustainable group management structure is the foundation for the delivery of certification,” he reported.
“After four years working with farmers, we are almost at the scale of 2000-3000 hectares under preparation for achieving PEFC group forest management certification. As a pilot project, we’re helping smallholders lead the way on PEFC certification in Viet Nam and by doing so influencing the national certification system developments,” Dr. Ha concluded.
Mr. Rauno from the Finnish Forest Owners Association, Savotta, who is the twinning partner and coordinator for the Cooperative Alliance Project, was also on hand to share Finland’s experience with stakeholders. “Savotta has around 360,000 ha of forests that are managed by smallholders with the Association’s support. Our forests are much like Viet Nam’s, where forest owners need to cooperate to improve their ability to interact in the value chain, especially for certification, and like in Finland, PEFC is probably the best for Viet Nam.”
“It was great to see all the key stakeholders for a sustainable National Forest Certification System present and all focused on making certification processes feasible for smallholders,” said Richard Laity, PEFC South East Asia, Projects and Development Officer, summing up the day.
“Bringing together farmers, cooperatives, cooperative alliances, researchers, project coordinators, NGOs, provincial and national government, certification bodies, the accreditation body, local and international companies shows the strength of PEFC’s national approach.”
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