Dr. Pamela McElwee (second from left), Dr. Le Thi Van Hue (center) and colleagues discuss plans for their joint project (photo courtesy of Dr. Le Thi Van Hue).
Forecasted global climate changes have the potential to exacerbate existing social vulnerabilities, especially in poorer developing countries, and communities’ and individuals’ ability to cope with these future changes are often conditioned on their ability to access and mobilize natural resources. At the same time, new global policies are in development that would pay countries for “avoided deforestation” through forest conservation efforts known as Reduced Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation (REDD+) in order to sequester carbon and contribute to climate change mitigation. However, as access and use rights to forests change under REDD implementation, this may render some households and communities more
vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the long term if REDD policies reduce their adaptive capacity by restricting access to natural resources. Thus, an understanding of the potential outcomes of carbon-credit policies on land use decision-making is necessary before such large scale global programs get more fully underway.
This study will build upon an early REDD development site in Vietnam and explore several questions regarding this new policy. The overall goal of the existing project underway is to understand the ways in which payments for ecosystem services (like carbon) serve to alter land-use decision making by smallholder households in forested areas and evaluate if these land-use decisions increase or reduce overall social and biophysical vulnerability to forecasted climate changes. This current PEER-supported project aims to expand the existing project into new field sites and add additional data collection on environmental conditions. Methodologies and data from the pilot research sites will be shared with an in-country network of stakeholders, and a country-wide index of indicators for REDD will be created to assess at the provincial level in Vietnam the likelihood of meeting conditions of success in REDD. To promote capacity building with local policymakers and NGOs on key REDD issues, short training courses and national workshops will also be organized. This study should contribute to policy-relevant knowledge on social vulnerability to climate change in a country that is likely among the most seriously affected. It also has the potential to influence development of REDD policy, as it may provide a baseline to explain variations in the expected performance of various possible REDD approaches.
On January 22-24, 2015, the Tropenbos team working on this project conducted a training course on “Local Livelihoods and Forest Protection in the Context of Climate Change” at the Bi Doup Nui Ba National Park, Lam Dong Province. The course was designed for local officials at the commune level and rangers from the national park and Lac Duong District. Its objectives included (1) presenting the objectives of the PEER project; (2) providing updated information on REDD+ and climate change in the local context; (3) facilitating negotiations between local residents and park rangers to harmonize forest protection goals and local livelihood strategy; and (4) introducing monitoring tools for reference livelihoods and vulnerability levels (RLVL) at the community level with regard to payments for ecological services (PES) and potential REDD projects. The course was attended by 30 participants, including Bi Doup Nui Ba National Park rangers; representatives from the Lac Duong District Forest Protection Division, Agriculture Division, the Women’s Union, and the Da Nhim Forest Management Board; and forest officers from Da Nhim, Da Chais, Da Sar and Lat communes, which are located in the core area of the park.
Meanwhile, with the support of U.S. partner Dr. Pam McElwee, the CRES team has taken the lead in designing the program and recruiting speakers for the training course on “Social and Environmental Safeguard: Developing Tools for Monitoring PES/REDD Project for Success,” which will be carried out in cooperation with the partners from PanNature and Tropenbos from May 11 to June 26, 2015. The course announcement has been posted on the CRES and project websites and disseminated to the CRES network at the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE) and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in the seven provinces where the team has conducted its field surveys. CRES has received positive feedback and will select 25 participants from the applicant pool. They have invited international and Vietnamese lecturers from the World Bank, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Netherlands Development Organization, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, and the Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) to deliver lectures on Introduction to REDD and PES, REDD experience in Vietnam and other countries, social and environmental safeguards, livelihoods and forest protection and development, and biodiversity data monitoring.
The third participating organization in this project, PanNature, has completed REDD environmental and social index (RESI) data entry and analysis, and the information collected in Kon Tum, Son La, Dien Bien, and Kien Giang provinces has been entered in the RESI template. Initial results and scores for Kon Tum and Son La provinces have been completed, but more time is needed to finish processing the data from Dien Bien and Kien Giang. PanNature introduced RESI to a group of 30 participants at the 6th Vietnam REDD+ Sub-Technical Working Group on Governance in Hanoi on April 7, 2015. They received many comments and a great deal of positive feedback on the RESI conceptual framework and methodology, which they will use to revise RESI accordingly. PanNature staff is working with a website design firm in Hanoi to build and launch the RESI website.
The overall project website is peer.cres.edu.vn
. Hosted by CRES with content is both English and Vietnamese, the website already includes the RLVL database, and the RESI database is expected to be added in May. In addition to the planned joint summer training course, Tropenbos will share the RLVL information with other groups and conduct a workshop to present database development methodology. Researchers from all three partner organizations will develop policy briefs and prepare articles to be published in international journals by the end of the project, currently set for September 30, 2015.