Vietnam joins hands in land management, desertification combat
Hit by drought and land degradation, Vietnam has been taking strong actions to enforce the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to join global efforts against these global phenomena.
A drought-hit rice field in Bong Krang commune of Lak district, Dak Lak province.__Photo: VNA

Hit by drought and land degradation, Vietnam has been taking strong actions to enforce the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to join global efforts against these global phenomena.

In 1994, the UN General Assembly designated June 17 as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, marking the date of the UNCCD ratification. The day aims to improve public awareness of drought and desertification, and encourage the UNCCD implementation in countries hit hard by the phenomena.

This year, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is themed “United for Land. Our Legacy. Our Future.”

Over the past years, drought has occurred more frequently and seriously. Climate change-triggered drought poses the risk of worsening desertification. Globally, drought duration and frequency have increased by 29% since 2000. Without urgent action, drought may affect more than three-fourths of the world population by 2050.

Meanwhile, desertification is the final stage of land degradation. Almost three-fourths of the earth’s ice-free area has already degraded by human activities carried out to meet growing demand for food, raw materials, transport, and housing.

Vietnam is impacted by drought, land degradation, and moving sand dunes. Degraded land nationwide approximates 12 million ha, accounting for 35.74% of the country’s total area, according to a 2021 land survey by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) reported that Vietnam has about 400ha of natural desert. It is not a hot spot of desertification but land degradation has still been occurring.

The northwest, Central Highlands, and south-central coast regions are hit hardest by land degradation. Desertification has been recorded in certain narrow strips of sand along the central coast, from Quang Binh to Binh Thuan, which is home to the largest desertified area of about 419,000ha.

For the last nearly 40 years, the movement of sand dunes has exacerbated desertification. About 10 - 20ha of land was encroached by sand each year, leading to serious deterioration of soil fertility.

The UNCCD points out that desertification is a global issue affecting all regions worldwide, so the international community needs to take common action to combat desertification.

Aware of the problem and to share the international community’s responsibility, the Vietnamese Government signed and became the 134th party to the UNCCD on August 19, 1998. Continual efforts have been made to carry out the convention and fulfill the responsibility of a member state.

Under the national action plan on desertification prevention and control for 2006 - 2010, with orientation towards 2020, the country has worked to perfect the legal basis for protecting land, forest, and water resources to fight desertification; raise public awareness, train manpower, and improve technical infrastructure and research institutes to serve desertification prevention and control; assess the situation and identify causes; and devise solutions.

The MARD’s Department of Forestry, previously the General Department of Forestry, built a national plan on water scarcity and drought. It also updated the national action plan on desertification prevention and control for 2021 - 2025, with a vision to 2030, and a project on setting voluntary land degradation neutrality targets for the 2017 -2020 period, with a vision to 2030.

Protecting and development forest is an effective method to prevent desertification and drought, curb land degradation, and accelerate land recovery.

To do that, Vietnam has fruitfully implemented a program on greening bare land and hills (Program 327) and a project on planting 5 million ha of forest (Project 661) with the aim of creating conditions for ethnic minority people in remote and particularly disadvantaged areas to benefit from forest and generating socio-economic and environmental effects. As a result, the country’s forest coverage has been expanded from the lowest rate of 27.8  percent in 1993 to 42 percent at present, compared to the global average of 31 percent.

Following that, the Prime Minister approved a project on planting 1 billion trees during 2021 - 2025 which looks to plant, care for, and protect nearly 700 million trees scattering in urban and rural areas, along with over 300 million trees in concentrated forests. So far, nearly 770 million trees have been grown under this project.

In 2023, Vietnam for the first time completed procedures for successfully transferring 10.3 million tons of carbon (10.3 million forest carbon credits) to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank to earn nearly VND 1.2 trillion (over USD 47 million). This demonstrates the country’s efforts to achieve the dual targets of fighting land degradation and bringing economic profits to local people.

Vietnam is also investing efforts to reach targets of the program on sustainable forestry development during 2021 - 2025, which aims to protect and sustainably develop the entire forest area, maintain the forest coverage nationwide at about 42 percent, and continue improving forest productivity and quality to meet production and consumption needs, protect the environment, conserve biodiversity, minimize natural disasters’ impacts, and promote climate change adaptation.

On February 29, 2024, the PM approved a plan on developing multi-use values of the forest ecosystem by 2030, with a vision to 2050. Three months later, on May 24, the Government released a decree that adjusts some investment and support levels for forest protection and development.

Pham Hong Luong, Deputy Director of the Forest Department, said the latest plan and decree will create sustainable resources for people to engage in forest protection, promote livelihoods, and capitalize on the forest ecosystem’s multiple values for tourism and education.-(VNA/VLLF)

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