The International Day of Forests (IDF) celebrates, raises awareness, and highlights the importance of all types of forests. On this day, countries are encouraged to work towards conserving and managing forests sustainably.
This year, the IDF theme is Forests and Biodiversity. Forests serve as the home for about 80% of life on land in the world and host an amazing variety of wildlife. More than a billion people depend on the world's forests for food, shelter, energy, and income. Therefore, it is important that we protect biodiversity from serious deforestation threats, forest degradation, and climate change.
United Nations Development Business (UNDB) and its partners support the preservation of forests and its unique biodiversity. Through various international development projects, countries around the world have been able to improve ecosystems and sutainably manage their forests.
In Vietnam’s Central Highlands farmers have partnered with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to make the shift to sustainable agriculture. The Poverty and Environment Fund (with support from ADB) has improved the farmers livelihoods while protecting the forests.
Watch how these farmers help preserve the region’s majestic forests:
VO: Where farmers might once have cleared trees for crops, they’re now working to protect them. Viet Nam has set aside many protected areas across the country including the Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, known for its diversity of flora and fauna. When the park was established in 2004, they faced the immediate challenge of balancing conservation with the interest of nearby farmers.
Cil Yu Ha Vuong, Farmer: Life was so hard in the past. We practiced shifting cultivation. We clear the forest, grew some crops, and after 2 years or so left for new forest area.
VO: Now, these farmers are the forest’s guardians. In 2005, the Asian Development Bank under its Poverty and Environment Fund or PEF implemented a pilot project in 3 communes in and around the park to improve farmers livelihoods and to conserve forests. The PEF project enlisted villages to participate in defining and protecting a biodiversity corridor between the national park and the nearby Da Nhim Watershed Protection Forest.
Farmers like Bon Dung Ha Nam also received training to cultivate some new ways to make a living. Ha Nam tends to 5,000 square meters of coffee on the edge of the park. His small plantation means no more days of hunger for the 14 family members who depend on him.
Bon Dung Ha Nam, Coffee Farmer: Before farming was very hard. It is much better now. This is because we now grow coffee, rice, and some mace and raise cows. In general, we have become better off, both my family and my neighbors.
VO: Under the 2 year PEF project, hundreds of families also received pigs or cows and were taught more effective methods of raising livestock. The focus on promoting income generating activities has since been replicated in other biodiversity corridor programs supported by ADB across the Greater Mekong Subregion.
In Lam Dong the PEF project also built the foundation for USAID pilot protection project, whereby farmers are compensated for patrolling assigned forest areas to protect against illegal logging and other threats. This approach known as payment for forest ecosystem services or PFES has become a national policy. Through PEF, ADB is now working to scale up PFES to other areas across the country. Such efforts have contributed to positive changes in and around the park. In the 7 years since the PEF project, poverty rates have gone down and the hill sides are still covered with forest land.
Bon Dung Ha Nam, Coffee Farmer: In the past, there was illegal cutting and logging. Now, the forest is better protected. Green everywhere, we are like the owners of this forest. We keep them green and growing.
Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
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