A wildlife recovery landscape

The mighty forest in the Thua Thien Hue Saola Nature Reserve. Photo: Thanh The Vinh/ WWF Viet Nam

The mighty forest in the Thua Thien Hue Saola Nature Reserve. Photo: Thanh The Vinh/ WWF Viet Nam

Over the last six years, the ‘Preventing deforestation, forest degradation and leakage (CarBi)’ project has safeguarded forest restoration activities in a conservation area of more than 240,000 ha stretching from central Viet Nam to southern Laos. The project’s activities comprised protected area management, law enforcement, forest restoration and livelihood diversification, as well as supporting the governments of Laos and Viet Nam in addressing the illegal wildlife and timber trade. Forest restoration activities included afforestation, regeneration, enrichment planting, forest protection contracts and community forest management, engaging almost 3,600 households from 20 communes. When it drew to a close in April 2017, the project published a storybook to conserve and share the knowledge and experiences that were gained during its course.

The landscape of the Central Annamites contains some of the last relatively intact evergreen forests in the Indochina region, which extend through Laos and Viet Nam. The area is considered a biodiversity hotspot and is widely known for its globally outstanding biodiversity. In 2013, the rare saola, a forest-dwelling bovine and endemic mammal, was spotted in the region for the first time in 15 years. Other numerous rare and endangered species, such as the striped rabbit and the Asiatic black bear, are also present in the Annamite forests. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has worked in Viet Nam since the 1990s and has supported the local government in the Annamites with its conservation efforts ever since.

The striped rabbit, one of the Central Annamite forests’ conservation treasures. Photo: Andrew Tilker

‘Our ambition is to connect a contiguous forest area from central Viet Nam to southern Laos, establishing an integrated series of protected areas. This will become a green corridor, creating a safe enabling environment for returning species to thrive in,’ said Dr Van Ngoc Thinh, Country Director of WWF Vietnam. KfW Development Bank joined forces with WWF to implement the CarBi project on behalf of the German Environment Ministry (BMUB) under its International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Community forest guards patrolling in their PFES (Payment for Forest Environmental services) forest area. Photo: Thanh The Vinh/WWF Vietnam

CarBi followed a conservation economy approach for forests in the Central Annamite Mountains that was implemented in close cooperation with local inhabitants, developing a common vision for the region. Locals worked as forest guards to protect the area while others received training for the restoration and enrichment of forests. These training measures complemented a government programme in which locals received permission to use some of the forest products, such as rattan or medicinal plants, in return for taking care of a small forest area. After the training, they were able to not just protect and patrol, but also to improve the conditions of these forests and use them sustainably. In addition, CarBi also built forest ranger stations and ranger outposts, and supported the clear demarcation of the National Reserve’s boundaries. The markers have helped to improve law enforcement, acting as a pre-warning for those who want to enter the Reserves illegally.

Forest guards are setting up a camera trap, one of the biodiversity monitoring activities. Photo: Linh Nguyen / WWF Vietnam

The stories told in the recently published book cover all of the project’s working areas and are told from a multi-level perspective. Local actors like forest guards or community members had the opportunity to share their views, as did scientists and project representatives from WWF or KfW.

Read the whole storybook here.