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  • The potential of REDD+ to finance forestry sector in Vietnam

The potential of REDD+ to finance forestry sector in Vietnam

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  • Despite the great potential REDD+ shows for generating and contributing finance to support forestry in Vietnam, a reduction in both funds and funder commitment to REDD+, challenges in meeting funder requirements, and the significant finance required to implement the national REDD+ program in Vietnam, all imply that in reality REDD+’s contribution as a major financial source for the forestry sector is limited.
  • Although the government has identified various public and private funding sources to cover the different phases of REDD+, the international public sector remains the primary funding source; limited contributions come from the private sector and state.
  • To date the spending of REDD+ finance has been uncoordinated and fragmented, due to a lack of clarity on what Vietnam’s REDD+ priorities are.
  • Effective and efficient implementation of REDD+ activities in Vietnam is being impeded by: limited and inaccurate data regarding REDD+ finance in Vietnam; an unclear definition of what REDD+ finance is; the absence of a national REDD+ financial tracking system; and limited technical capacity (within both government and civil society organizations) when it comes to monitoring REDD+ finance.
  • To increase the potential for REDD+ to financially contribute to forestry in Vietnam, the following is required: better coordination across sectors and amongst donors and government agencies; enhanced capacity building on the tracking and management of REDD+ finance; development and effective implementation of REDD+ policies and measures, so that the government can access result-based payments from different international funding sources.
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  • Vietnam prepares for long-term agroforestry strategy to address national and international commitments

Vietnam prepares for long-term agroforestry strategy to address national and international commitments

Mountains in Northwest province show signs of erosion from unsustainable farming practices. Photo by Robert Finlayson/ICRAF
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Mountains in Northwest province show signs of erosion from unsustainable farming practices. Photo by Robert Finlayson/ICRAF

Vietnam is preparing for a long-term strategy to speed up the adoption of agroforestry nationwide.

Agroforestry has been practiced for a long time in Vietnam. However, widespread adoption remains limited. Building on previous work to address barriers to adoption, a workshop was held on April 5, in which participants agreed that a long-term strategy for the development of agroforestry throughout the country was needed to address national and international commitments.

Titled “Enhancing Agroforestry Development in Vietnam: Policy Environment and Investment Opportunities”, the workshop featured presentations by Nguyen Ba Ngai, vice director of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry; Chu Van Chuong, vice director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Yurdi Yasmi of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); and Delia Catacutan, country coordinator of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Vietnam.

Read more: Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development awards ICRAF coordinator for agriculture and rural development work

The workshop was another step forward after a 2015 national policy dialogue for agroforestry development, from which two actions were implemented with technical and financial support from FAO. First, a review of agroforestry-related policies; and, second, the formulation of an agroforestry development proposal for the country. Progress on these two actions was presented at the workshop to ensure the most viable strategies were developed for Vietnam.

The policy working group presented its analysis, confirming that there was no specific policy for agroforestry development, the situation being compounded by a lack of legal definition of agroforestry practices and lack of official guidelines. The working group highlighted that many of the barriers to adoption could be addressed through the promulgation of supportive policies, including on land and tenure, financial mechanisms and rural advisory or extension support for farmers.

Workshop participants pose for a photograph. Photo by Tran Ha My/ICRAF

The Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute, ICRAF and UN-REDD presented their experiences of promoting agroforestry practices in different regions of the country, followed by an FAO presentation on the National Target Program on Sustainable Forest Development and Drought Initiatives, which was reinforced by a call for all present to work together to prepare a proposal on nationwide agroforestry development.

Just what shape that would take was discussed by the participants, with many agreeing that it was necessary to have an official definition of agroforestry upon which to base a legal framework for a specific policy and subsequent activities. Others, however, argued that it was not necessary to have a unique policy for agroforestry, saying it would be better to integrate practices into existing policies relating to forestry, agricultural extension or advice, and payment for forest environmental services.

Overall, the workshop participants agreed that there were many way to achieve more effective promotion of agroforestry, such as through promulgating agroforestry techniques, improving governance, establishing financial mechanisms, developing markets (including carbon), increasing education and training, integrating with payment for forest environmental services and UN-REDD programs, and adopting organic certification.

Participants also agreed that there was an urgent need for a nationwide study of agroforestry to assess the successes and lessons from existing practices, regions suitable for agroforestry and the main commodity species. The participants expected that a long-term strategy for the development of agroforestry in Vietnam would be developed in the near future.

Read more: Agroforestry sites in Vietnam provide lessons for farmland in Bhutan and Nepal

Representatives from the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, FAO, ICRAF and the Japan International Cooperation Agency covered such a strategy in a panel discussion. They argued that Vietnam should have a national program with targets and resource mobilization for long-term development. The government is expected to be able to gather national and international partners to fill the gaps in technology, finance and markets.

There was also discussion of deeper collaboration to speed up the adoption of agroforestry. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development expressed its support for partners continuing to work with the government in restructuring the agricultural sector to increase production quality, quantity and value.

By Pham Thanh Van, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development awards ICRAF coordinator for agriculture and rural development work

Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development awards ICRAF coordinator for agriculture and rural development work

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Delia Catacutan receives an award from His Excellency Dr. Le Quoc Doanh, Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Photo by Pham Duc Thanh/ICRAF

The World Agroforestry Centre’s (ICRAF) Vietnam Coordinator Delia C. Catacutan has received Vietnam’s highest award for agriculture and rural development.

Catacutan, who holds a PhD on natural and rural systems management from the University of Queensland, as well as a post-doc on sustainability science from Harvard University, specializes in policy and institutional research on integrated natural resources management.

As a senior social scientist and country representative for ICRAF in Vietnam, Catacutan aims to enhance the Vietnam Country Program in line with the Centre Global Program’s mission and vision.

His Excellency Dr Le Quoc Doanh, Vietnam’s Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, awarded the medal on April 5, 2018, during a workshop in Hanoi on Enhancing Agroforestry Development in Vietnam.

It is the highest award in the sector for individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to rural development.

On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Vice-Minister expressed his deep appreciation for Catacutan’s contributions and the close cooperation seen during her six years at the helm of ICRAF Vietnam, which includes some work that forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). He emphasized that the agriculture and rural development sector had received valuable assistance from the international resources provided by ICRAF.

Trees planted on the side of a farming area protect against water flowing from the road in the Philippines. Photo by Jovita Banaag/ICRAF

In particular, Catacutan has facilitated policy dialogues among government officers and the international community on agroforestry, climate change, disaster prevention, sustainable forestry development, ecosystem conservation and payments for environmental services.

Under Catacutan’s leadership, ICRAF cooperated closely with the Vietnam Administration of Forestry to review the new Forest Law before its adoption by the National Assembly in November 2017. Research was also carried out to support the provisions on forestry, agroforestry and fisheries in the Forest Law Enforcement Decree.

Catacutan led the strengthening of research collaboration with other Vietnamese partners in agroforestry development, reflected in memoranda of understanding signed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Vietnam Academy of Forest Science and Vietnam Farmers’ Union.

Dr. Le Quoc Doanh particularly acknowledged Catacutan’s efforts in coordinating successful projects throughout Vietnam, such as:

  • Agroforestry for Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers in Northwest Viet Nam (2011–2016)
  • Developing and Promoting Market-based Agroforestry and Forest Rehabilitation Options for Northwest Viet Nam (2017–2021)
  • ICRAF Support to the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change Phase 2 (2014–2016) and Phase 3 (2017–2020)
  • My Loi Climate-Smart Village in Ky Son Commune, Ky Anh District, Ha Tinh Province (2015–2018)
  • The Vietnam component of the Climate-smart, Tree-based, Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (2014–2017)
  • Sustaining Ecosystem and Carbon Benefits by Unlocking Reversal of Emissions Drivers in Landscapes (2013–2015)

The Vice-Minister expressed hope that Catacutan would continue to act as a bridge for cooperation between Vietnam and her home country of the Philippines, as well as other nations, and invited her to find ways to continue supporting Vietnam in the field of agroforestry.

Upon receiving the medal, Catacutan thanked Dr. Le Quoc Doanh and staff at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as well as her ICRAF colleagues, saying she expected ties between the ministry and ICRAF, as well as between Vietnam and the Philippines, to become even stronger in the future.

Adapted from the article by Tran Ha My, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World

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  • Agroforestry sites in Vietnam provide lessons for farmland in Bhutan and Nepal

Agroforestry sites in Vietnam provide lessons for farmland in Bhutan and Nepal

Terraced hillside in the Son La agroforestry landscape in the Northwest region of Vietnam. Photo by Chuki Wangmo
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Terraced hillside in the Son La agroforestry landscape in the Northwest region of Vietnam. Photo by Chuki Wangmo

Government officers from the mountainous countries of Bhutan and Nepal have visited highly successful agroforestry sites in Northwest Vietnam that are helping to restore degraded sloping land and improve farmers’ incomes.

The steep upland farming areas of Bhutan, Nepal and Vietnam share similar challenges in establishing sustainable agricultural practices that improve livelihoods and the environment.

To share knowledge and experience from working with farmers in the steeply sloping landscapes of Northwest Vietnam, government officers from Bhutan and Nepal traveled to Son La and Dien Bien provinces to explore an array of well-developed agroforestry systems, demonstration sites, plantations and nurseries. The visitors learned how the various systems have contributed to increased food security, income stability, water availability and reduced soil erosion.

As well as designing and establishing the systems with farmers and government extension officers, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), has been working with farmers to monitor changes in soil erosion following the adoption of agroforestry practices.

Chuki Wangmo and Kinley Wangmo from the Institute of Conservation and Environmental Research of the Bhutan Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, and Ram Babu Paudyal and Bishnu Kumari Adhikari from Nepal’s Ministry of Forestry and Soil Conservation, noted that cultivating on a steep gradient is something that communities across all three countries were familiar with. However, the associated issues of soil and wind erosion were not easy to mitigate.

An agroforestry system is seen on a hillside in Son La province, Vietnam. Photo by Chuki Wangmo

The visitors were first shown a five-year-old complex agroforestry system in Son La, where the recorded decline in soil erosion since the introduction of agroforestry was of particular relevance to the officers from Bhutan, who work with farmers in mountainous terrain.

“Hard evidence is very important,” noted Chuki Wangmo. “If people at both the national and local levels can see how agroforestry can be of benefit to crop production, especially by addressing soil and wind erosion issues which many farmers suffer from, it would encourage wider adoption of agroforestry in our country.”

Farmers in both Vietnam and Bhutan are already significantly affected by the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. In Bhutan, changes to precipitation are exacerbating the rate of soil erosion, which is speeding a decline in soil fertility, compounded by the steep terrain. The government often has to compensate farmers affected by crop losses and damage caused by landslides and flooding.

About 70 percent of Bhutanese farmers rely on agriculture, forestry and livestock for subsistence livelihoods yet only 8 percent of Bhutan’s total land area is cultivable. The establishment of agroforestry would enable farmers cultivating small areas of land to improve the efficiency and diversity of crop production in already fragile mountainous areas, whilst meeting the socioeconomic needs of the community.

“The successful agroforestry demonstration sites we visited revealed how agroforestry systems can increase land-use efficiency for smallholders by increasing the productivity per area unit,” noted Ram Babu Paudyal.

Nepal could reap the benefits of such simple yet effective agroforestry systems to produce a diverse range of products on small areas of land.

In Son La province, the Nepali visitors heard how farmers involved in a 50-hectare demonstration agroforestry landscape had migrated from a neighboring area affected by the construction of a hydropower dam.

The role of agroforestry in improving livelihoods is particularly relevant to Nepal because it is experiencing increased out-migration from rural areas. This was a key motive of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in funding a pilot study dubbed Enhancing Rural Livelihoods in Abandoned/Underutilized Agricultural Land through Agroforestry.

“We hope that agroforestry will encourage the return of urban migrants to farms,” said Ram Babu Paudyal. “If agroforestry can be demonstrated as a land-use system that can provide sustainable sources of income and sustainable land cultivation, it could help address poverty and many national environmental concerns.”

ICRAF Vietnam recognizes the importance of establishing long-term relationships and collaboration with district and community organizations to enable the sustainable implementation of agroforestry. Agricultural and forestry extensionists or rural advisors are a key component of such relations. The visitors had the chance to speak with extensionists at the field sites to better understand their role as communicators of technical advice and guidance to, and between, farmers.

“Extensionists are clearly very valuable when it comes to building cohesion between the agricultural and forestry sectors,” commented Kinley Wangmo. “We learned that there were many different stakeholders, including experts, involved in the process of enabling agroforestry on the ground. Our visit to the field sites showed that agroforestry systems differ depending on the type of landscape and that the needs of farmers in those landscapes must always be prioritized.”

By Anoushka Carter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.


This work is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Social Forestry – why and for whom? A comparison of policies in Vietnam and Indonesia

Social Forestry – why and for whom? A comparison of policies in Vietnam and Indonesia

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Community forestry or social forestry (henceforth referred collectively as SF) programs have become new modes of forest management empowering local managers and hence, allowing integration of diverse local practices and support of local livelihoods. Implementation of these initiatives, however, face multiple challenges. State-prescribed community programs, for example, will remain isolated efforts if changes in the overall economic and social governance frameworks, including the devolution of rights to local users is lacking. Financial sustainability of these measures remains often uncertain and equity issues inherent to groups and communities formed for SF, can be exacerbated.

In this article, we pose the question: Whose interests do SF policies serve? The effectiveness of SF would depend on the motivations and aims for a decentralization of forest governance to the community. In order to understand the underlying motivations behind the governments’ push for SF, we examine national policies in Vietnam and Indonesia, changes in their policies over time and the shift in discourses influencing how SF has evolved. Vietnam and Indonesia are at different sides of the spectrum in democratic ambitions and forest abundance, and present an intriguing comparison in the recent regional push towards SF in Southeast Asia. We discuss the different interpretations of SF in these two countries and how SF programs are implemented. Our results show that governments, influenced by global discourse, are attempting to regulate SF through formal definitions and regulations. Communities on the other hand, might resist by adopting, adapting or rejecting formal schemes. In this tension, SF, in general adopted to serve the interest of local people, in practice SF has not fulfilled its promise.

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  • Challenges for developing Forest Stewardship Council certification for ecosystem services: How to enhance local adoption?

Challenges for developing Forest Stewardship Council certification for ecosystem services: How to enhance local adoption?

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The rise of ecosystem services (ES) as a conservation and management tool has changed the way forests are conceived, but so far its translation into management actions has been limited. In this paper, we discuss the development of certification of forest ecosystem services (FES) from the perspective of those implementing it at the local level. We focus on the lessons that emerged from applying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification framework at selected sites in Chile, Indonesia, Nepal and Vietnam.

Our results indicate a clear relationship between local and global levels in the development of FSC FES certification. Although the FSC already had a broad vision of ES, it was only through local-level learning within a specific pilot experiment that the vision evolved and resulted in more formal FES certification becoming part of FSC forest management certification. We also found that those sites where participatory approaches to management and decision-making were applied could work with an undefined vision of the future system, and still successfully design and implement management activities. However, overall the lack of specific vision and detailed information about future FES certification was problematic in attracting market interest in FSC certified ES.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.10.001

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  • Agroforestry for livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Northwest region of Vietnam

Agroforestry for livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Northwest region of Vietnam

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Shifting cultivation and monocropping of staple food crops such as maize, rice, or cassava have been identified as the main reasons for declining yields due to soil degradation and soil erosion in the Northwest region of Vietnam. Recognizing the potential of agroforestry, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is implementing a comprehensive agroforestry research with local partners in the region.

Originally published by ICRAF.

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  • Dreams come true: the benefits of agroforestry

Dreams come true: the benefits of agroforestry

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Hoa, a young woman in the remote highlands of Dien Bien province in Northwest Vietnam, longs to go to university but her parents are unable to pay for her. However, after her father joins an agroforestry development program led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the results are lucrative enough that Hoa is able to realize her dream.

The  first phase of the Agroforestry for Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers in Northwest Viet Nam project ran for five years until 2016. The second phase began in March 2017. The project is supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

Originally published by ICRAF.

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  • A picture paints a thousand words for Smart Tree-Invest project

A picture paints a thousand words for Smart Tree-Invest project

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Getting behind the camera enables farmers to express their perspectives and assess their land in a creative and engaging way. 

The Climate-smart, Tree-based Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project focused on improving the livelihoods and resilience of smallholder farmers through the promotion of climate-smart, tree-based agriculture in three countries by reducing their vulnerability to climate change.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) project, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), recently completed its three-year journey.

Among the most innovative aspects of the project was Photovoice, a participatory research method that saw cameras provided to farmers in the project’s field sites.

Read more: Smart use of trees: Co-investment scheme improves livelihoods, maintains ecosystem services

“The main objective was to help in identifying and understanding the vulnerability and adaptive capacities of smallholder farmers to climate change and variability in Ho Ho-subwatershed as a project site, through photos that reflect local perceptions and knowledge on vulnerability,” said Tran Ha My, communications staff member for Smart Tree-Invest in Vietnam.

“Photovoice is also a different approach to share farmers’ insights and experiences, which helped the project and local stakeholders to develop more appropriate solutions for enhancing livelihood and environmental resilience in the subwatershed,” she added.

The benefits of the approach were twofold. The farmers had a creative way to express their perspectives, could better understand their vulnerabilities and capacities and more actively participated in discussing issues related to their land. Meanwhile, the researchers also collected baseline photographs of the landscape in the process.

See the baseline photographs for Buol in Indonesia, Huong Lam in Vietnam and three sites in the Philippines

“Using photos in focus groups and a video baseline survey puts faces to the once-anonymous ‘stakeholders’ of a project. They give a more personal dimension to all the figures and statistics and help show what farmers really need and how researchers can help,” Amy Cruz, communications staff member for ICRAF in the Philippines, wrote early in the life of the project.

The personal dimension was clear in the results, which showed smallholders’ land through their own eyes. Later, impact photos displayed improvements in the farmers’ livelihoods through knowledge gained from the project.

“Photovoice is a process that allows more nuanced capturing of the important elements in a landscape by letting farmers themselves decide specific areas to photograph. We asked them to capture two of their areas that were most vulnerable to climate change, two of their resources and two of their coping strategies. Aside from documentation of the landscape and the farmers’ perspectives, the photos were used in discussion groups to further draw out opinions of the landscapes in their respective villages,” Cruz explained.

“Nearly all the farmers identified sloping areas on their farms as the most vulnerable — they were usually flooded during rains — and the crops as their resources. There was, however, a variety of coping strategies mentioned by the farmers when discussing the photographs.

“Some said they did not do anything when the land flooded; they just waited for the waters to recede. Others said that they did, or planned to, use contouring on their fields to counter erosion. Quite a few also used trees as boundaries and windbreaks,” she added.

See the impact photos from Indonesia and Vietnam

The photographic results were used in focus group discussions with participants and with other farmers who did not take photos themselves. Through conversations over the results, the farmers were all able to agree on common issues that they faced.

“Photovoice provides an initial glimpse of the vulnerabilities of the farmers,” Cruz said in a separate blog. “While it is not enough to give a complete measure of vulnerability, it is an effective way to start the discussion. The farmers analyze and express their perceptions, while the researchers draw evidence from the photos and discussions with the farmers. Literature review and quantitative methods of vulnerability assessment could then be used to validate these findings.”

By looking at the bigger picture, smallholders and researchers worked creatively and more effectively toward climate-smart farming systems.

Read more:

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). We would like to thank all donors who supported this work through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund. This project was  supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

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  • Smart use of trees: Co-investment scheme improves livelihoods, maintains ecosystem services

Smart use of trees: Co-investment scheme improves livelihoods, maintains ecosystem services

A woman inspects buds on a tree as part of the Climate-smart, Tree-based, Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia project. Photo by ICRAF
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A woman inspects buds on a tree as part of the Smart Tree-Invest project in Indonesia. Photo by ICRAF

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) recently marked the end of its Climate-smart, Tree-based Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project with a closing event in Jakarta. 

Smart Tree-Invest, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), worked in watersheds in Buol, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia; Lantapan municipality, Bukidnon province, the Philippines; as well as Ha Thinh and Quang Binh provinces in Vietnam.

The project, which ran from 2014 to 2017, aimed to improve the livelihoods and resilience of smallholder farmers through the promotion of climate-smart, tree-based agriculture in the three countries, aimed at reducing their vulnerability to climate change.

It did so by developing co-investment models that involve smallholders as ecosystem service providers while local governments and the private sector invest as ecosystem service beneficiaries.

Based on diagnostic studies of needs and opportunities in each country, the project introduced novel tree-planting schemes to improve the quality of home gardens, smallholders’ plantations, riparian and sloping land — and ultimately the quality of the environment and local livelihoods.

The process of identifying opportunities as well as new schemes for using resources available locally have been adopted by local governments in the three countries, overcoming their initial skepticism based on past ‘project’ experience. Moreover, toward the end of the project, private sectors were eager to join in initially monitoring ecosystem services in their sites in Indonesia, supporting market access for smallholders in Vietnam, and starting the initial incentive flow in the Philippines.

FTA researcher Beria Leimona speaks at the Smart Tree-Invest project’s closing event. Photo by Sidiq Pambudi/ICRAF

Smart Tree-Invest was the first project to explicitly pilot the development of Co-investment in Ecosystem Services (CIS) schemes, a concept that emerged from earlier Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) ideas. More than 600 farmers from the three countries were involved in co-investment activities.

Watch: An introduction to the Smart Tree-Invest project

FTA researcher and ICRAF ecosystem services specialist Beria Leimona, who was the overall leader of Smart Tree-Invest, noted the similarities between the three countries.

“We chose these sites because we work closely with the International Fund for Agricultural Development or IFAD [which had established a presence in the areas through previous projects] and all of the sites are remote, and they are more or less the ‘poorest of the poor’,” she said.

The Lantapan watershed had previously hosted an investment in environmental services project. There was also investor interest in the areas in terms of the private sector, including a major hydropower company in the downstream. It was the first time co-investment had been implemented on the ground.

The area “had been degraded to some extent,” Leimona said. ICRAF has had a presence in Lantapan for quite some time, she explained, beginning with the Landcare initiative in the 1990s.

“With Landcare, we saw the potential: we gave the awareness [about tree planting], but what sort of incentives would make them want to sustain the pilot?”

Following that was the Rewarding Upland Poor for Environmental Services (RUPES) project with its incentive system for farmers.

Researchers subsequently “added information about what type of ecosystem services farmers and outside beneficiaries could get if they planted trees on their farms, which was in this case the watershed functions — increasing water quality for the company and also reducing erosion from farmland.”

“Through Smart Tree-Invest, we wanted to get more stakeholders involved in linking development programs with well-measured conservation objectives to result in green-growth scheme in their jurisdictions, including IFAD as the development agency and particularly the district and provincial government,” Leimona said.

Read also: 

A farmer shows off cacao pods growing on a tree as part of the project. Photo by ICRAF

Buol in Indonesia and Ha Tinh in Vietnam were more remote than the Philippines site. There was “almost no private sector,” Leimona said, adding that there was also less interest from business and infrastructure was less supportive.

She put this down to the area not being “sexy” or high-profile like locations such as Kalimantan, leading to almost no projects occurring there.

The silver lining was that “the enthusiasm of the local government was very high because they were quite eager to see what happened.”

Among the other notable differences between the sites were that in terms of the landscape structure, Vietnam did not have a mixed system or agroforestry. That stemmed from land-use policy, said Leimona, whereby farmers must follow government requirements on what to plant on their land.

In Buol, agroforestry existed with crops such as cacao, coconut and candlenut, Leimona explained. However, it had not been commercialized and was not well managed. “People didn’t think it could be a source of future profits,” she said, adding that farmers previously concentrated more on their patchouli or paddy fields.

Among other approaches, the project used the Capacity Strengthening Approach to Vulnerability Assessment (CaSAVA) framework, which ICRAF developed. The participatory approach of CaSAVA helped the collection of local ecological knowledge from smallholders in Lantapan, according to researcher Kharmina Anit in the Philippines, and increased their awareness of the issues in their landscapes, encouraging practical adaptation solutions at the community level.

The project also provided best practices in support of the implementation of policies in each country.

In Buol, the local administration has committed to replicating Smart Tree-Invest activities including farmers’ learning groups and watershed and tree-planting monitoring. The project was implemented in two subdistricts in the Buol watershed, and the district administration is set to expand activities to the Mulat-Lantika Digo watershed, using its own funding.

FTA scientist Meine van Noordwijk (left) poses for a photograph with members of the Smart Tree-Invest Vietnam team. Photo by Sidiq Pambudi/ICRAF

The administration has requested ICRAF’s support through continued technical assistance as it replicates the project activities after the project’s end.

Watch: Impacts of Smart-Tree Invest project after 3 years

In summing up the project’s impacts and its relation to greater goals at the closing event in Jakarta, FTA scientist Meine van Noordwijk said it was “not only about healthy food but also healthy farmers and healthy forests […] in the frame of climate change.”

Unlike management systems that require results to be outlined beforehand and achieved, Van Noordwijk added, Smart Tree-Invest made a commitment and then awaited the impacts. The “open-ended” learning approach fit into existing structures of regulations and funding mechanisms, as well as working within local contexts.

“[This] provided food for thought on how we may see one object from different perspectives, and end up with different results,” said ICRAF ecosystem services specialist Sacha Amaruzaman. “Professor van Noordwijk reflected on the different characteristics of three country sites; how the similar start in each site through the application of the CaSAVA framework ended up with different co-investment schemes.”

“Clarification of the issues, weighting the trade-off between options and considering context are the three actions required to achieve development goals,” he added.

The partnerships formed with governments and other stakeholders stand as testament to this, as does the continued commitment in the sustainability of the project.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). We would like to thank all donors who supported this work through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund. This project was  supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).


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