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Assessing the ‘nature’ of a ‘forest transition’ in Vietnam: ecosystem services and social-ecological resilience in locally managed forest landscapes

English title Assessing the ‘nature’ of a ‘forest transition’ in Vietnam: ecosystem services and social-ecological resilience in locally managed forest landscapes
Applicant Kull Christian
Number 194004
Funding scheme r4d (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development)
Research institution Institut de géographie et durabilité Faculté des géosciences et de l'environnemen Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.09.2020 - 31.08.2023
Approved amount 830'986.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Social geography and ecology
Agricultural and Forestry Sciences
Ecology
Environmental Research

Keywords (8)

forest policies; rainforest disturbance and succession; acacia plantations; tropical landscape ecology; household and community forest tenure; forest transition; rural livelihoods; payments for forest ecosystem services

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Eine Wald-Transition nennt man eine historische Trendwende von einer Abholzungs-bedingten Abnahme zu einem erneuten Netto-Zuwachs der Waldfläche, so wie dies zum Beispiel in der Schweiz ungefähr Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts stattgefunden hat. Im Kontext der wirtschaftlichen Modernisierung und zunehmenden Verstädterung eines Landes kann Waldzuwachs aus der Stilllegung von wenig produktiver landwirtschaftlicher Fläche erfolgen. Andererseits, im Kontext der Verknappung von Holz-Ressourcen und sich verschlechternden Umweltbedingungen, können auch neue politische Vorgaben und Initiativen, welche den Waldschutz und die Wiederaufforstung fördern, den Waldzuwachs begünstigen. In neuester Zeit wurden solche Wald-Transitionen auch für einige tropische Länder beschrieben, in Südostasien insbesondere in Vietnam. Die genaue Beschaffenheit solcher Transitionen und deren Rückkoppelung für die Entwicklung ländlicher Gebiete wurde jedoch bisher kaum erforscht.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojektes

Ziel der Forschung ist es, zu einem besseren Verständnis tropischer Wald-Transitionen beizutragen, insbesondere in Bezug auf nachhaltige Entwicklung. Fokussierend auf einen Forschungsstandort in Zentralvietnam werden wir (i) die dynamischen Mechanismen und Ursachen jüngster Waldveränderungen beschreiben; dies beinhaltet Formen der Nutzung (wie die weit verbreitete Pflanzung australischer Akazien) und der ökologischen Sukzession in verschiedenen Waldtypen. Wir werden (ii) die Auswirkungen dieser Veränderungen auf die Verfügbarkeit von forstlichen Holz- und Nichtholzprodukten, sowie auf Ökosystem-Dienstleistungen wie zum Beispiel Wald-Schutzfunktionen von Wassereinzugsgebieten untersuchen. Innerhalb des gegebenen institutionellen, wirtschaftlichen und politischen Umfeldes werden wir (iii) die Wirkungen der Veränderungen auf die Existenzgrundlagen der ländlichen Bevölkerung, sowie deren daraus resultierenden Bewertungen verschiedener Waldtypen, erforschen. In diesem Zusammenhang werden wir insbesondere (iv) die Wirkungsweise von neuen umweltökonomischen Instrumenten wie ‚Finanzielle Abgeltungen von Waldökosystem-Dienstleistungen‘ untersuchen. 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext des Forschungsprojektes

Unser Projekt wird grundlegende Informationen liefern über die Auswirkungen verschiedener forstlich relevanter Prozesse (umweltpolitische Vorgaben und sozioökonomischer Wandel, ökologische Vegetations-Dynamik); dies in Hinsicht auf die Erzielung eines praktikablen und nachhaltigen Waldwirtschaftsregimes, welches zentrale Wald-Ökosystemfunktionen (in natürlichen sowie aufgeforsteten Wäldern, einschliesslich Akazien-Plantagen) unterstützt, wiederherstellt und verbessert. Die Forschung wird verknüpft sein mit erweiternden Bildungsprogrammen und Workshops für Praktiker, einschliesslich der Kapazitätsförderung von forstlichen Berufsleuten, Wissensaustausch zwischen Stakeholdern, und Evidenz-basierten Verbesserungen und Innovationen von umweltpolitischen Instrumenten. 
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 15.05.2020

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Une « transition forestière » est une reprise forestière, comme la Suisse en fait l’expérience depuis 1850. La reprise forestière peut être le résultat d’un abandon de surfaces agricoles peu productives alors que le pays se modernise et s’urbanise, ou de politiques publiques et d’initiatives favorisant la protection forestière ou les nouvelles plantations. Les transitions forestières ont récemment été décrites dans plusieurs pays tropicaux, notamment au Vietnam, mais la nature exacte de ces transitions et leurs conséquences en termes de développement restent largement inexplorées.
Lay summary

Contenu et but du projet de recherche

Notre objectif est de contribuer à une meilleure compréhension des transitions forestières tropicales et de leur rôle en termes de développement durable. Sur la base d’un site d’étude situé au centre du Vietnam, nous allons (i) décrire les dynamiques récentes et les causes des changement de la couverture forestière, en incluant la plantation généralisée d’acacias australiens et la succession écologique dans différents types de forêt, (ii) explorer les conséquences de ces changements sur la disponibilité en produits ligneux et non-ligneux et autres types de services écosystémiques tels que la protection des bassins hydrographiques. Nous allons par ailleurs (iii) évaluer, au sein des contextes institutionnels, économiques et de politiques publiques actuels,  les conséquences en termes de moyens de subsistance pour les acteurs locaux et la manière dont ils sont évalués en fonction des différents types de forêts; en particulier, nous allons (iv) examiner l’efficacité des nouvelles politiques publiques de « paiements pour services sylvo-environnementaux ». 

Contexte scientifique et sociétal du projet de recherche

Notre projet générera des informations sur les impacts de divers processus (transformations socio-économiques et de politiques publiques, dynamiques écologiques). Ces informations sont indispensables à un régime de gestion forestière pratique et durable qui maintient, restaure et optimise les fonctions-clefs et les services de l’écosystème, qu’il s’agisse de forêts plantées ou naturelles. La recherche sera associée à des programmes de sensibilisation. Il s’agira principalement de programmes de renforcement des capacités des professionnels de la foresterie, d’échange de savoirs entre acteurs et d’amélioration et innovation en matière de politiques publiques fondées sur des preuves.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 15.05.2020

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
A ‘forest transition’ is a turnaround from historical forest loss to forest gain, as experienced by Switzerland since 1850. Forest regrowth may result from abandonment of less productive farmlands as a country modernizes and urbanizes, or, from policies and initiatives which promote forest protection or new plantations. Forest transitions have recently been described for several tropical countries, prominently including Vietnam, but the exact nature of the transitions and their feedback into development remain largely uninvestigated.
Lay summary

Content and aim of the research project

 

Our aim is to contribute to a better understanding of tropical forest transitions as they relate to sustainable development. Focusing on a study site in Central Vietnam, we will (i) describe recent forest cover changes and their causes, including widespread planting of Australian acacias and ecological succession in different forest types, and (ii) investigate the consequences of these changes on availability of timber and non-timber products and other types of ecosystem services like watershed protection. We will (iii) assess the livelihood outcomes and valuations of different types of forests for local stakeholders within current institutional, economic, and policy contexts; in particular, we will (iv) investigate the effectiveness of new ‘payments for forest environmental services’ policies.

 

Scientific and societal context of the research project

 

Our project will generate essential information on the impacts of diverse processes (policies, socio-economic change, ecological dynamics) in achieving a practical, sustainable forest management regime that maintains, restores and optimizes key forest ecosystem functions and services from both planted and natural forests. Research will be connected to outreach programs, including capacity building for forest professionals, knowledge exchange between stakeholders, and evidence-based policy improvements and innovations.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 15.05.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Acacia Plantation Development and the Configuration of Tree Farmers’ Agricultural Assets and Land Management—A Survey in Central Vietnam
Cochard Roland, Vu Bien Thanh, Ngo Dung Tri (2021), Acacia Plantation Development and the Configuration of Tree Farmers’ Agricultural Assets and Land Management—A Survey in Central Vietnam, in Land, 10(12), 1304.
The politics of forest transition in contemporary upland Vietnam: Case study in A Luoi, Thua Thien Hue province (PhD thesis)
NguyenVan Hai Thi (2021), The politics of forest transition in contemporary upland Vietnam: Case study in A Luoi, Thua Thien Hue province (PhD thesis), University of Lausanne, Lausanne.
Vietnam’s forest cover changes 2005–2016: Veering from transition to (yet more) transaction?
Cochard Roland, Nguyen Van Hai Thi, Ngo Dung Tri, Kull Christian A. (2020), Vietnam’s forest cover changes 2005–2016: Veering from transition to (yet more) transaction?, in World Development, 135, 105051-105051.
Utilization of research knowledge in sustainable development pathways: Insights from a transdisciplinary research-for-development programme
Jacobi J., Llanque A., Bieri S., Birachi E., Cochard R., Chauvin N. Depetris, Diebold C., Eschen R., Frossard E., Guillaume T., Jaquet S., Kämpfen F., Kenis M., Kiba D.I., Komarudin H., Madrazo J., Manoli G., Mukhovi S.M., Nguyen V.T.H., Pomalègni C., Rüegger S., Schneider F., TriDung N., von Groote P., et al. (2020), Utilization of research knowledge in sustainable development pathways: Insights from a transdisciplinary research-for-development programme, in Environmental Science & Policy, 103, 21-29.
Determining factors affecting forestland use change in Nam Dong district, Thua Thien Hue Province
Thao PTP, Thang TN, Mai NTH, Loi NV, Trang VTT, Hang TTT, Determining factors affecting forestland use change in Nam Dong district, Thua Thien Hue Province, in Hue University Journal of Science: Agriculture and Rural Development.
Land Acquisition through Bricolage? Politics of Smallholder Acacia Plantation Expansion in Upland Central Vietnam
Nguyen Van Hai Thi, Kull Christian, Land Acquisition through Bricolage? Politics of Smallholder Acacia Plantation Expansion in Upland Central Vietnam, in Journal of Peasant Studies.

Datasets

Database for study on Vietnam's forest cover changes 2005-2016

Author Cochard, Roland; Nguyen, Thi Hai Van; Ngo, Tri Dung; Kull, Christian
Publication date 22.06.2020
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.5281/zenodo.3903596
Repository Zenodo
Abstract
The database provided here forms the basis of a study which is published in the journal World Development (year 2020) under the title ' Vietnam’s forest cover changes 2005-2016: veering from transition to (yet more) transaction?'. The database contains two hundred province-level data variables provided by government agencies. The database includes potentially relevant indicators of the Vietnamese provinces’ terrain and geography (G variables), forestland and tree plantation cover/changes (F), population density/changes and ethnic composition (P), labor and poverty (L), development of infrastructure (S) and hydro-electric capacities (H), agricultural cultivations/changes and productivity (A), industrial wood processing capacities (W), illicit logging (C), forestland tenure/contracts (T), payments for forest ecosystem service (PFES) funding/coverage (E), as well as various indices of governance, institutional and public administration, and socio-economic performance (I). Each variable contains 63 data (i.e. 63 Vietnamese provinces) and is described in detail in the file, including data type and summary statistics. The variables were mostly accessible directly from government sources, or indirectly from NGOs or via international publications (the sources are indicated in the file).

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Nathalie Ceperley, University of Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
HUAF (Hue University College of Agriculture and Forestry) Vietnam (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Mathieu Gravey, University of Utrecht Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Pamela McElwee, Rutgers University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
CORENARM Vietnam (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
PanNature (People and Nature Reconciliation), Hanoi Vietnam (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Central Institute for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, Vietnam National University Vietnam (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Swiss Geosciences Meeting (Geneva 2021) Talk given at a conference Land cover changes (~forest transition) over fifty years (1968-2019) in Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnam: Illustrations and insights on aspects of ‘sustainability’ 20.11.2021 Geneva, Switzerland Cochard Roland;
Swiss Geosciences Meeting (Geneva 2021) Talk given at a conference In what sense may a ‘forest transition’ be a ‘transition to sustainability’, or rather not? Reflections with reference to socio-ecological changes in Central Vietnam 20.11.2021 Geneva, Switzerland Kull Christian;
Swiss Geosciences Meeting (Geneva 2021) Talk given at a conference New Forests, New People in the ‘landscape of transition’? Environmental Subject and Identity in the contemporary Uplands of Vietnam 20.11.2021 Geneva, Switzerland Nguyen Thi Hai Van;
Cycle de conférences enjeux sociaux – enjeux spatiaux (Université de Genève) Individual talk What’s the goal, what’s the way? Geography, political ecology and sustainability 18.11.2021 Université de Genève, Switzerland Kull Christian;
Human Ecology Research Group Seminar Series (University College of London) Individual talk New forests and new forest people in central Vietnam: questions for sustainability and interdisciplinarity 26.01.2021 University College of London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Kull Christian;
Swiss Geosciences Meeting (Zürich 2020) Talk given at a conference State territorialization and transition of upland forest frontier spaces in post-socialist Vietnam 07.11.2020 Zurich, Switzerland Kull Christian; Nguyen Thi Hai Van;
Workshop Imaginaries of Development in the Highlands (Bern 2020) Talk given at a conference Re-configuration of upland frontier spaces: state territorialization, commodification of nature and resource control in Vietnam 27.09.2020 Bern, Switzerland Nguyen Thi Hai Van;


Self-organised

Title Date Place

Knowledge transfer events

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) “Drastic forest development”: Vietnam to plant 1 billion trees – but how? Mongabay International 2021
Media relations: print media, online media Bảo vệ ‘áo giáp’ an ninh môi trường (Forests: Environmental security armor), 2020 Saigon Online International 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Economic pressures resurgent in Vietnam’s forests (and other blog posts) Christian Kull's blog International 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) FT Viet project blog International 2020

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
169430 Assessing the ‘nature’ of a ‘forest transition’ in Vietnam: ecosystem services and social-ecological resilience in locally managed forest landscapes 01.09.2017 r4d (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development)

Abstract

Southeast Asia remains a major hotspot of tropical deforestation. Yet, within this region, Vietnam has since the 1990’s experienced a remarkable turn-around from net deforestation to net reforestation - a process referred to as a ‘forest transition’. Even though a ‘forest transition’ suggests a change towards sustainable forest use that ensures delivery of ecosystem services as well as resilient rural livelihoods, in reality not much is known about the more ‘qualitative’ aspects of tropical forest cover increases. Pressures from selective logging and invasive vines, for example, restrain the regenerative capacities of native forest vegetation. Furthermore, vast mono-crop plantations of non-native species (especially acacias) continue to expand and dramatically change the features and ‘qualities’ of forested landscapes. As a policy tool to provide incentives for better protection of forest resources and associated ecosystem services, new government-sponsored programs of ‘payments for forest environmental services’ (PFES) have been set up. However, the effects of the PFES scheme are still largely unknown. Through a partnership between University of Lausanne and Hue University we propose an interdisciplinary project (across social/natural science divides) to investigate the qualitative aspects of forest transition in Vietnam, with a special focus on forestlands managed by households or village communities under PFES schemes. Using a broad range of methods (from remote sensing, to participatory livelihoods assessments, to multi-stakeholder workshops) our project concentrates on four work packages: 1) Detailed forest-ecological studies will provide insights into aspects of forest structure, diversity, and associated ecosystem services as they relate to different types of management (protected area vs community vs forest board management; with/without PFES funding). 2) Research on rural livelihoods and the roles, constraints and visions of different actors with regard to forest changes and the new PFES policy schemes will provide key insights into underlying socio-economic factors. 3) Investment in the capacity of all stakeholders, and in particular the future generation of forest managers, will occur via academic and professional training, information dissemination, and multi-stakeholder interactions. 4) Finally, building on the research findings and extended stakeholder involvement, we will formulate evidence-based policy recommendations on PFES and other relevant policies to improve practices of sustainable rural development and forest management. The project aims to substantially increase the understanding of tropical forest transitions, specifically with regard to forest ecosystem functioning and ‘quality’ aspects, in conjunction with prevailing policy and management regimes (in particular land tenure and PFES schemes). Correspondingly, the project will contribute to strengthen rural social-ecological resilience.
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