Carbon credit: Opportunity for revival of forests in Central Highlands

With the existing forests, many localities in the Central Highlands are looking forward to the exploitation of their natural resources.

Bidoup Nui Ba National Park

Vietnam carried out projects to transfer 5.15 million forest carbon credits to Emergent - a nonprofit created to urgently address the climate and biodiversity crises by incentivizing reductions in deforestation to maximize climate, ecosystem, and sustainable development benefits - and the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance (LEAF) for US$10 a ton from 2022 to 2026 in 11 Provinces in the South Central and Central Highlands regions. This is a positive signal for the carbon market in Vietnam and also an opportunity and expectation for sustainable forest development.

With the existing forest area, many localities in the Central Highlands are looking forward to excavating a large gold mine from natural resources. Director Hoang Sy Bich of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Lam Dong Province said that currently, Lam Dong Province along with 10 Provinces in the Central Highlands and South Central regions (including Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kon Tum) Tum, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan) is coordinating with the Forestry Department and relevant parties to finish procedures for the grant of natural forest carbon credits, as a basis for selling natural forest carbon credits through the LEAF/Emergent organization.

For current forests planted by humans, no organization or country has registered to implement the documents and procedures for Lam Dong Province to be granted carbon credits for planted forests as a basis for selling carbon credits. In the coming time, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Lam Dong Province will contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Department of Forestry, and relevant sectors and organizations for procedures to be granted carbon credits for planted forests to create revenue for forest owners and many stakeholders, Mr. Hoang Sy Bich added.

Vice Chairman Nguyen Huu Thap of Kon Tum Provincial People's Committee said that with a forest land area of 616,000 hectares, is great potential for the province to build carbon credits. Forest carbon credits are a new issue and are considered a sustainable financial source to support localities and forest owners in implementing the tasks of forest management, protection and development, and forest fire prevention. However, there are no specific instructions for implementation.

Therefore, the Provincial People's Committee has requested the Government, ministries and responsible agencies to issue specific instructions for implementation, especially issues of purchasing and selling mechanisms, management and use of funding sources. Similarly, Deputy Director Truong Thanh Ha of Gia Lai Provincial Forest Protection Department said that the area has a forest area of more than 649,000 hectares across 17 districts, towns and cities. The Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is also actively coordinating with the Department of Forestry to develop a carbon credit project in the province.

Mr. Ha also shared that, for the planted forest area, Ecotree Company currently proposes some issues related to surveys to cooperate in investing in planting and developing sustainable forests and building a pilot carbon credit project for planted forest areas. Ecotree Company has completed the survey and is completing documents and specific proposals. After Ecotree Company completes the specific proposal dossier, the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will coordinate with relevant departments to work with the Provincial People's Committee on the company’s proposal.

However, Mr. Ha added there needs to be specific instructions and regulations from the government. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will coordinate with relevant departments to advise the Provincial People's Committee on implementation.

Following achievements from the carbon credit project for 11 Central Highlands and South Central Provinces, currently, many forest owners in the Central Highlands are ready to approach the new project. Director Khuong Thanh Long of Ta Dung National Park in Dak Nong Province said that the Ta Dung National Park Management Board has used resources and improved the capacity of National Park Management Board staff to implement pay for future carbon credit services. In particular, by the end of 2023, the unit has planted more than 620 hectares of new forest. Forest development on bare land areas has been contributing to increasing carbon reserves for Ta Dung National Park.

Vice Chairman Le Trong Yen of Dak Nong Provincial People's Committee also holds expectations about the forest carbon market. He said it is expected that by 2025, Dak Nong Province will issue carbon credits, estimated to earn $10 a credit. According to Deputy Director Phan Viet Ha of the Central Highlands Institute of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, carbon credits are one of the solutions to restore forests in the Central Highlands.

Currently, resources to manage, protect and develop forests are limited, while forests provide many ecological and environmental services. If a forest carbon credit market is built, it will create economic resources for forest owners, businesses, people, and forest growers to invest in forest protection and development.

If the forest carbon credit market in Vietnam develops well, it will be an opportunity for development, towards sustainable economic, social and environmental management of forests. Therefore, the authorities need to create favorable conditions in terms of mechanisms and laws to encourage units and people to build forest carbon credits, said Mr. Phan Viet Ha.

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