Biodiversity plays a very important role in the socio-economic and environmental development of Vietnam. It also plays a vital role in the provision of biodiversity services (provisioning services, regulatory services, cultural services and support services). Through these services, biodiversity makes a significant contribution to the national economy, providing a basis for ensuring food security; maintaining genetic resources of
animals and plants; and providing materials for construction, fuel and pharmaceutical resources.
The recent change in Vietnam’s biodiversity is reflected in a variety of ways and aspects: although the area of Vietnam’s forest cover has increased, much of this increase has been due to the planting of production forest; overall the habitat for wildlife is decreasing as a result of land conversion; overall the status of rare and endangered species is declining sharply; and both inland water and marine ecosystems are being degraded due to inappropriate exploitative activities.
Biodiversity in Vietnam is currently is facing many threats. Pressure from the increasing human population combined with an increasing level of consumption is resulting in overexploitation of biodiversity resources. Rapid socioeconomic development has also changed the natural landscape. Land conversion and infrastructure construction has significantly reduced the area of natural habitats, increased ecosystem fragmentation, and degraded the habitats of many species of wild plants and animals. Natural resources,
especially biological resources, are undergoing overexploitation and timber, non-timber and aquatic products are particularly vulnerable. In addition, alien species, environment pollution and climate change are all directly impacting on the biodiversity of Vietnam. In addition, the level of effort to manage the biodiversity resources of Vietnam is still insufficient. The system of state management agencies responsible for biodiversity remains fragmented and weak - laws and regulations to protect biodiversity are still unsystematic and lacking in policy conformity; community involvement is yet to be adequately mobilized; planning for national, regional and provincial biodiversity conservation has not been implemented in a systematic manner; and investment in biodiversity conservation and development remains highly limited.
Immediately after acceding to Convention on Biological Diversity, Vietnam developed its first National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) approved by the Prime Minister on the 22nd of December 1995. Since its approval, the NBAP 1995 is considered as legally binding document, and acts as a guide to support actions for biodiversity conservation in Vietnam. The National Biodiversity Strategy to 2010, vision to 2020 (NBS- 2007) was approved by the Prime Minister on the 31st of May 2007 and its objectives were considered to be consistent with the nation’s socioeconomic development situation during that period. In July 2013, the National Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, vision to 2030 (NBS) was officially approved by the Prime Minister, becoming the new orientation for theconservation and management of biodiversity, aiming to support the green economy, and coping with climate change.
The Government of Vietnam has integrated elements of both environmental protection and biodiversity conservation into national plans, programs and policies, such as the Poverty Alleviation Strategy, National Sustainable Development Strategy, and the Territories Development Plan and so on. Recently, economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism have begun to integrate biodiversity conservation as one of their strategic development goals. It is recognized that the integration of biodiversity conservation into policies, strategies, plans and programs of both Ministries and agencies will be vital for long-term biodiversity conservation.
Despite some progress towards both the national targets and the strategic targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity, there remain some challenges in achieving these targets, particularly in the management of biodiversity. These include: lack of effective intersectoral coordination mechanisms to respond to overlap in functions among relevant ministries and agencies; laws and regulations to protect biodiversity are still unsystematic and lacking in uniformity; community involvement in biodiversity conservation has not been sufficiently mobilized, which leads to weak law enforcement; deforestation and
illegal wildlife trade pose serious threats to biodiversity; overall investments in biodiversity are insufficient, resulting in a lack of financial, human and technological resources. In order to achieve both national targets and the CBD targets, the following priority activities are recommended:
- Enhance state management of biodiversity, including: clarifying the functions and mandates of both Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and MONRE in biodiversity conservation management; promote the closer and integrated working relationships between key and relevant agencies and stakeholders in conservation; and enforce the law and legislation on biodiversity conservation;
- Increase investments of resources for biodiversity conservation. These investments should be targeted at: developing a biodiversity inventory; developing a comprehensive monitoring system for change in biodiversity; developing and operating a biodiversity database system and identification of mechanisms to share, exchange, and manage information; strengthening capacity for staff; promoting supervision of law enforcement; and finally increasing investment for biodiversity conservation from the state budget;
- Ensuring maintenance of a national system of Protected Areas (terrestrial/ forest, wetland, and marine) and ensuring critical ecosystems are safeguarded and protected. Conservation priority is to be granted to Protected Areas in critical ecoregions.
- Promote biodiversity conservation and management at three levels namely ecosystem, species and genetic diversity.
- Control and take steps to stop illegal trade and overexploitation of biodiversity resources, especially rare, threatened and endangered species;
- Preserve and develop genetic resources by completing an inventory and compiling information on biodiversity resources, and related indigenous knowledge nationwide;
- Develop risk management and risk control of alien species, with a particular focus on genetically modified organisms (GMO), their use, and any potential impacts on the environment, biodiversity and human health;
- Study and evaluate the role of biodiversity in response to climate change and propose appropriate solutions;
- Promote integration of biodiversity conservation into development strategies, plans, and programs at central, ministerial and provincial levels;
- Increase financial resources allocated for biodiversity conservation and ensure effective management of the public budget for conservation; and
- Maintain and promote support from international community in conservation.