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(Partnership Note, December 2007)


Key contacts:

Nguyen Tuong Van/Paula Williams (FSSP&P MARD)

Tel: 04 - 762 9412


The Forest Sector Support Partnership (FSSP, or the Forestry Partnership) is a broad framework for collaboration between the Government of Vietnam and all stakeholders who take an interest in the forest sector in Vietnam. The FSSP Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed in November 2001, and runs through 2010. Prior to the FSSP establishment, it was preceded by another partnership, the 5 Million Hectare Reforestation Partnership, which operated from 1998 through 2001.  In 2006, the Forestry Partnership agreed to support implementation of the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy (VFDS, 2006-2020), which was approved by the Prime Minister in February 2007.


FSSP provides a valuable means by which the Government, other national partners, and international partners can exchange information and views on strategic sector issues.  The Partnership serves as a channel for coordinating dialogue and technical review of important issues, such as the 2004 revision of the Law on Forest Protection and Development, other legal documents, the forest sector 5-year plan (2006-2010), and the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy.  The Partnership has achieved this dialogue through meetings of its Partnership Forum, Partnership Steering Committee, Technical / Executive Committee, and more informal exchanges, including “virtual” or electronic dialogue, i.e., policy and technical review feedback from international partners via email.


In November 2006, the Forestry Partnership institutional structure was revised, to broaden the Partnership to all interested stakeholders, i.e., to include not only government, international donors and international non-governmental organizations, but also local non-governmental organizations, others in civil society, and both domestic and foreign private sector investors.  The first Forestry Partnership Forum, open to all interested stakeholders, including local organizations and private investors, was held on 8 May 2007, and attracted 160 participants.
This report has been prepared by the FSSP Coordination Office (FSSP CO), which serves as the secretariat for the Forestry Partnership and as the day-to-day management unit of the Trust Fund for Forests (TFF), which is supported by several FSSP partners.  The report provides an update on major forest sector performance and Forest Sector Support Partnership activities during the past 6 months and some key activities planned for 2008. 


Implementation of the Sector Strategy: The Partnership supports the implementation the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy.  The implementation is organized according to the five major programs of the Strategy:

• Program 1: Sustainable Forest Management and Development
• Program 2: Forest Protection, Biodiversity Conservation, and Delivery of Environmental Services
• Program 3: Forest Product Processing and Trade
• Program 4: Research, Education, Training and Forestry Extension
• Program 5:  Renovating Forestry Institutions, Policy, Planning and Monitoring

Implementing the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy in late 2007
Early in 2007, the MARD Minister established five Coordination Sub-committees, one for each program of the Strategy, to plan and mobilize support for implementation of the respective programs.  Each committee organized meetings in July and/or August, to review priorities for 2007-2010, and financial resources needed to implement these priorities, including government budget and current ODA support for each program. 

The current estimates of overall funding needs for implementation of the VFDS for the period 2007-2010 are amount to 31 629 billion Vietnamese dong (VND), equivalent to 1.98 billion U.S. dollars (USD).  Implementation will be funded by the Government of Vietnam, Official Development Assistance (ODA) sources, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and local enterprises and private sector, including households. Of the total amount, it is assumed that 14%, or USD 269 million, would come from ODA sources.  Current ODA commitments amount to USD 125 million, or less than half the amount needed.

The upcoming Partnership Annual Review Meeting, in January 2008, will include a detailed review of the 2007 implementation progress of each of the five strategy programs.  The following sections here highlight a few recent key forest sector developments under each program, especially noting those receiving Partnership support.


Program 1: Sustainable Forest Management and Development. 

This program focuses on supporting sustainable forest management, of both natural forests and forest plantations, with a major emphasis on production forestry and production of forest seedlings.  It also includes support to forest land allocation, community forestry, and non-timber forest products.  MARD’s Forestry Department (FD) is the focal point for this program.


On 10 September 2007, the Prime Minister promulgated Decision No 147/2007-QD-TTg on the Production Forest Policy for the period of 2007 – 2015. To encourage all economic actors to invest in forest plantations, the Government will support a part of initial costs. This support aims to connect development of production forests to forest product processing and trading, so that the plantations will be sustainable. This support will be provided to domestic organizations, households, individuals and community who are working with production forest, harvesting and processing forest products. Priority will be given to pro-poor communes that are in an extremely difficult situation to promote forestry development in those communes. Top priority will be given to production forestry in the Northwest Region, Central Highlands and mountainous communes in the Central Region. The overall objective is to plant 2 million hectares of production forest, which means establishment of 250,000 hectares annually (including replanting after harvesting).   Work to develop this new policy was undertaken by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, working with MARD, and was supported by a TFF grant.  KfW has carried out a study on possible direct budget support to the Production Forest Programme.


The 5 Million Hectare Reforestation Programme (5MHRP, also known as Programme 661) is the national target program for the forestry sector, with major investments from the government budget. It promotes both production forestry and improved management of protection and special-use forests.  On 6 July 2007, the Prime Minister promulgated Decision No. 100/2007/QD-TTg, amending and supplementing a number of points of the Decision 661/QD-TTg of 29 July 1998 on objective, mission, policy and implementation of the 5MHRP. The Government Office also promulgated the Document No. 3681/VPCP-KTTH of 3 July 2007 about using the Programme 661 budget remaining from the period of 1999 – 2005.   Some support for review and revision of 661 was provided by international FSSP partners.

For Programme 661, during the first 10 months of 2007, 2,099,452 ha were allocated for forest protection, which exceeds by 629,896 ha the targets planned by the Government (i.e. 42.8%). 730,412 ha were zoned for forest rehabilitation, which reaches 113.2% of the plan. In addition, 143,236 ha of forest were planted, of which 29,587 ha were in protection and special-use forests, and 113,649 ha in production forests. All different types of economic actors have been involved in the plantation of protection forests; nearly half of the production forest areas planted were supported by Programme 661, while the rest were planted by enterprises and households through their own efforts.


Moreover, most provinces have implemented the new regulation on forestry tree seeds: they have been trained on how to manage tree seeds and equipped for this activity. The reclassification of the three types of forest (production, protection, and special-use) has now been approved for 38 out of 61 provinces.

Another TFF grant is supporting a pilot programme on community forest management.  Under these activities, MARD has issued Document No. 2324/BNN-LN on 21 August 2007, Guidelines on community forest harvesting procedures and technical indexes, and Document No. 1326/CV-LNCD on 7 September 2007, Guidelines on community forest management planning. This programme has also received support from the Community Forestry Working Group, in which several international FSSP partners have been active over the years.


MARD has also promulgated Decision No. 2242/QD-BNN-LN on 7 August 2007, approving the Action Plan on Conservation and Development of Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs) for the period of 2007 – 2010.  Work on this issue has received support from international FSSP partners, such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN).


Program 2: Forest Protection, Biodiversity Conservation, and Delivery of Environmental Services.
This program focuses on supporting forest protection and conservation of biological diversity, and thus has a major emphasis on protection and special-use forests.  It also supports ongoing work on payment for environmental services (PES).  MARD’s Department of Forest Protection is the focal point for this program.

Efforts are ongoing to improve forest protection, especially to reduce forest fires and illegal logging. MARD, with support from the European Union and World Bank, is undertaking a study related to Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG), which will be completed in 2008.  Several international non-governmental organizations working in Vietnam are also working on related FLEG initiatives.


The Forest Protection Department is developing a comprehensive program for supporting the management of Special-Use Forests (SUF).    Support for preparation of management plans for SUFs is being provided by the Vietnam Conservation Fund, funded by the Global Environment Facility and European Union, with technical assistance coming from the Trust Fund for Forests.  The VCF comprises a component of the larger Forest Sector Development Project (FSDP), which also has major support from the World Bank.

Efforts to pilot payment for environmental services (PES) are getting underway in two provinces – Son La, with support from GTZ, and Lam Dong, with support from Winrock International. It is envisaged that in the future, payments for environmental services might be managed through the proposed new Fund for Forest Conservation and Development, which has been under preparation for the past few years. Several FSSP partners, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), have supported work on the formulation of this new Fund.  


Program 3: Forest Product Processing and Trade.
This program focuses on promotion of the processing and marketing of timber and non-timber forest products.  As such, then, this program supports the efforts of many private sector initiatives, from small-scale to large-scale enterprises.  MARD’s Agro-forestry Processing and Salt Industry Department is the focal point for this program.


Several FSSP partners, including GTZ and WWF, are currently supporting efforts of MARD and other stakeholders to promote private sector investment in timber and NTFP processing and trade, including support for work on forest certification and chain-of-custody (CoC) issues.  MARD and Provinces are very actively seeking to promote private sector investment in this area.


Program 4: Research, Education, Training and Forestry Extension (RETE).
This program focuses on forestry research, education and training for those working in the forestry sector, and forestry extension.  While it considers each of these elements individually, the program also aims to promote linkages among research, education, training, and extension, to provide responsive and demand-driven support to those managing Vietnam’s forests and forest lands.  MARD’s Science and Technology Department (STD) is the focal point for this program.


Research is ongoing, along the lines developed in the Forestry Research Strategy.  Work is underway to consider how best to prepare a comprehensive human resources development strategy for the sector.  Meanwhile, considerable efforts are underway in the National Agricultural Extension Center, to develop extension services, including those related to forestry.  A RETE network is already being piloted in Thua-Thien Hue Province, with support from the Swiss non-governmental organization, Helvetas, and the Netherlands non-governmental organization, SNV.  Helvetas is also supporting preparation of a proposal for further development of RETE networks.  The Netherlands, through its project supporting vocational training in forestry, is supporting preparation of a human resources development strategy.


Program 5:  Renovating Forestry Institutions, Policy, Planning and Monitoring.
This program focuses on overall reform and modernization of the forest sector institutions, updating of the policy and legal framework, and improving planning and monitoring.  MARD’s Forestry Department (FD) is the focal point for this program.


In addition to the legal documents already cited above, the Government, MARD, and Forestry Department have also issued a number of other important legal documents, many of which have received financial and/or technical support from the Partnership.  A fuller listing of available documents can be found at:  


The forest sector is working on development of comprehensive forest sector information systems and an integrated information technology (IT) portal.  Work on this issue was authorized by the Minister, through Decision 3427 in November 2006.  Some initial support has been provided by the Partnership, most notably through support to development of selected modules for Forest Sector Monitoring and Information Systems (FOMIS), such as the forest sector monitoring indicators and database, and the forestry ODA database (see further discussion below).  The Vietnamese-German Forestry Programme has also developed a concept for support to monitoring and information systems to support sustainable forest management, tentatively named the Forest Management Information System (FMIS).


Some FSSP partners, notably the European Union and World Bank, are working with MARD on a forest sector fiscal and financing study, due to be completed in early 2008.


Partnership Secretariat (FSSP Coordination Office).  The work of the Partnership secretariat, or FSSP Coordination Office, is organized according to 4 major result areas:  (1) coordination activities; (2) communications and information activities; (3) functioning, or day-to-day management, of the Trust Fund for Forests; and (4) management of the FSSP Coordination Office. 


Main activities implemented by the Partnership and FSSP CO in late 2007

Coordination activities
• Partnership Forum and related events. The Forestry Partnership organized a Forum on “Socialisation of Forestry – Broadening Stakeholder Participation” on 8 May 2007.  This event was the first Partnership meeting open to all stakeholders, including local organizations and private sector investors, both domestic and foreign. The following day, another forum targeted more specifically at private sector investors was organized by the MARD Planning Department, with support from the FSSP CO and GTZ on “Investment in the Forestry Sector in Vietnam - Opportunities and Challenges.”  As a follow-up event, FSSP is providing support to the Department of Forestry and the Institute for Policy and Strategy of Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) to organize a national workshop on land consolidation for production forest plantations. The Center for International Research on Forestry (CIFOR) is also supporting this workshop. The meeting will be held on 4 December 2007.  This meeting has also attracted great interest from  the private sector.

• Technical/Executive Committee.  The FSSP TEC held its 36th meeting on 12 October 2007. This meeting focused on reviewing FSSP activities during 2007, and also considered the Action Plans (2007-2010) prepared for implementation of the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy.  Another meeting is planned for mid-December 2007, to approve the 2008 Work Plan and Budget.

• Support to the six Regional Forestry Networks: Meetings were organized for each of the six networks in July and August 2007 to review the activities done in first half of 2007, and plan activities for second half of 2007.  The FSSP CO is assisting the networks to mobilize resources to carry out their priority activities:  FAO is providing support (about $114,000) to two Regional Forestry Networks (Northwest and Northeast) on dissemination and awareness-raising regarding the 2004 revision of the Law on Forest Protection and Development and other key legal documents in the forest sector. Discussions are ongoing with Forestry Department and GTZ on how to work with the regional forestry networks on forest policy issues.

• Support to the 5 Coordination Committees of Vietnam Forest Development Strategy (VFDS) Programs.  Each committee organized meetings in July and August, to review priorities and resources, including government budget and current ODA support for each program, by updating their Program Action Plan for 2007-2010.  The FSSP CO provided support to these committee meetings, and consolidated the action plans for discussion at the TEC meeting in October 2007.  The FSSP CO is working with MARD leadership to seek more ODA funding, to support implementation of the VFDS.  This issue will be further discussed at the FSSP Annual Review Meeting in mid-January 2008.  Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing with the TFF donors about possible additional TFF support to key strategic issues for implementation of the VFDS.

• Coordination with other initiatives.  The Partnership also puts considerable effort into coordination and information-sharing with a wide range of other initiatives, Ministries, departments, partnerships and experts. For example, the Forestry Partnership has been participating in the ongoing comparative analysis of all MARD partnerships, which is being undertaken with support from the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development. 


Communications and information activities.
• Forest Sector Monitoring and Information Systems (FOMIS). 
o The FOMIS indicator set has been revised with total of 76 indicators and organized in line with the Vietnam Forest Development Strategy (VFDS) and the forest sector 5-year plan.  The baseline 2005 data for the revised indicator set has been collected and processed for putting into a structured database.  Currently an analytical report of the baseline data is under preparation, which will be released in early 2008.
o The forestry project ODA database has been recently updated. The FSSP CO analyzed the project data to show ODA by geographical regions, by the 5 programs of the strategy, and by year (for the period 2006 to 2010). Information from this database has also been used to indicate support for implementation of the VFDS action plans.
• Communications.  The FSSP CO continues to promote information sharing through its routine activities, such as operation of its website, and briefing numerous visitors about Partnership and sector activities.  Currently work is ongoing to prepare a thematic newsletter on the topic of Monitoring and Evaluation, for publication at the end of 2007.


Trust Fund for Forests.
• Board of Directors. The second BOD meeting was held on 28 June 2007, and third meeting on 23 November.  At these meetings, TFF progress and initial ideas for future use of TFF to support implementation of the strategy were discussed.
• Fiduciary Risk Assessment (FRA).  The TFF donors and MARD agreed to carry out an assessment of possible fiduciary risks in the current management of the TFF.  This mission was conducted in September, and a final report submitted in early November.  Follow-up actions will be further discussed and agreed in late 2007-early 2008.
• Other Key TFF Activities. The revised TFF Project Implementation Manual (PIM) was issued in September. In October, a proposed Pilot Programme for Support to the NTFP Sub-sector was appraised for possible TFF funding.  MARD and TFF donors are discussing the extension of the initial phase of the TFF for one additional year, through the end of 2008, to allow more time to prepare the next phase.

FSSP Coordination Office.
• Annual Work Plans and Budgets.   The FSSP CO prepared a mid-year revision of the 2007 annual work plan and budget, which was approved in August 2007.  In late 2007, the annual work plan and budget for 2008 has been drafted.
• Future Plans for the FSSP CO. The CO has continued discussion with MARD leaders and donors on the future of CO, including its future integration into the Forestry Department.  The CO has also been discussing with donors the need for additional funding for the core Partnership activities, funded via the FSSP CO Trust Fund, for the period 2008 – 2010.


Main activities to be implemented by the Partnership and FSSP CO in 2008

Coordination activities.  In 2008, the Forestry Partnership will continue to place major focus on coordinating and mobilizing support to implementation of the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy (VFDS) – an issue to be highlighted at the January 2008 Partnership Annual Review Meeting.  FSSP will continue to support sector coordination, especially through the convening of meetings of the Forestry Partnership Forum, the TEC, the six Regional Forestry Networks, and the five Strategy Coordination Sub-Committees.  The FSSP will also provide support to the Forestry Department and International Cooperation Department (ICD) of MARD to organize a very big event, the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission and Asia-Pacific Forestry Week from 21 to 26 April.  Later in the year, another Forestry Partnership Forum will be organized, perhaps in conjunction with National Forestry Day (28 November).


Communications and information activities.  In 2008, efforts will be made to further develop the Forest Sector Monitoring and Information System (FOMIS).  These efforts will be part of the larger initiative of the Forestry Department to develop Forest Sector Information Systems and an integrated Forest Sector Information Portal.  As such, then, the FSSP CO will work with the Forestry Department and the Vietnamese-German Forestry Programme to begin to merge various information system initiatives and websites, and work will begin on development of new modules.  The FSSP CO will be working on development of a legal document database module. For the forest sector indicators, the 2006-2008 data will be collated and processed as quickly as possible. In terms of communications and information sharing, the Partnership will support MARD to develop and implement overall communications strategy for the forest sector, as well as to continue to provide routine information sharing through the Partnership website, newsletter, etc. 

Trust Fund for Forests.  In 2008, the TFF Management Unit will work to develop a new Memorandum of Agreement and financing agreements with its funding donors.  Efforts will be taken to strengthen monitoring and supervision of TFF grants, and to provide training for both TFF grant recipients and TFF Management Unit staff. 


FSSP Coordination Office.  In 2008, the FSSP CO will work with its core funding partners, to secure additional support for the Partnership activities for 2008-2010.  Efforts will be taken to analyse different institutional options for the future merging of the CO into the Forestry Department, perhaps into a new division to be created.


Some Possible Success Indicators for 2008
• Continuation of implementation of the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy (2006-2020).
• The Asia Pacific Forestry Commission will be held successfully in Hanoi with support from FSSP CO.
• Greater FSSP support to decentralization of activities.
• The Forest Sector fiscal and financial study will provide forest sector inputs into MARD’s Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
• The Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) study will, in collaboration with other FLEG initiatives in Vietnam, will contribute to improved forest protection.
• Information dissemination on key sector and partnership activities will be enhanced.
• The Trust Fund for Forests management will be strengthened and aligned with MARD’s administration system, and the TFF will support key forest sector strategic priorities (as identified in the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy (VFDS), forest sector 5-year plan, and forest sector 2008 annual work plans).
• The Forest Sector Monitoring and Information Systems (FOMIS) will be further developed at national level, i.e., for monitoring implementation of VFDS and 5-year plan, reporting on international environmental agreements, etc.


For further information, contact the FSSP Coordination Office, No. 6 Lane 42 Lieu Giai Street, Hanoi, Vietnam.  Telephone: (84-4) 762 9412 Email: fssp@hn.vnn.vnWebsite:



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