WASHINGTON, D.C. – The USDA Forest Service International Programs office recently organized a study tour to California and British Columbia, Canada for government officials from Vietnam. The study tour was designed to give the delegation, composed of representatives from five government ministries including the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, exposure to different carbon pricing mechanisms and identify considerations they may want to include in new policies being developed at home in Vietnam. This activity is part of the Forest Service’s larger engagement in Vietnam, funded by the US Agency for International Development, which includes capacity building programs and technical assistance to strengthen Vietnam’s Payment for Forest Ecosystem Services program. Continued technical support from the Forest Service, as a national land management agency, is important in furthering and refining Vietnam’s PFES program.
During the study tour, the delegation visited policy developers, regulators, companies who pay for their emissions, forest managers and indigenous groups benefiting from carbon payments. The delegation met with the California Air Resources Board, Pacific Gas & Electric Utility Company, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Round Valley Indian Tribe in California. In British Columbia, they met with federal government and British Columbia provincial government officials and visited the Cheakamus Community Forest in Whistler.
Vietnam’s PFES program has been an evolving success for the country and a global model. Annual PFES revenues in 2019 are around USD$125 million/year and come from 494 “payers” nationwide: 339 hydropower companies, 96 municipal water companies and 59 tourism companies. In 2017, PFES revenues were used to protect 5.98 million hectares of forest, or 45% of the country’s forest area.
Vietnam is in the process of developing a new policy to pilot a carbon “fee” to be paid by large greenhouse gas emitters. To start, the policy will focus on coal-fired power plants and cement manufacturers. The revenue generated from this fee will go into a government-managed fund and will be distributed to forest owners to support forest protection.