This report represents the first National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) of Vietnam, one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. A particular focus is on forest, wetland, and marine and coastal ecosystems that provide the highest level of ecosystem services for human wellbeing in the country and continue to be indispensable to the nation’s economic growth. The NEA report has been developed on the basis of the following five policy questions:
1. What is the status of biodiversity and trends of key ecosystems (forest, wetland, and marine and coastal ecosystems) and the services they deliver in Vietnam?
2. How do forest, wetland, and marine and coastal ecosystems services contribute to the socio-economy?
3. What are the pressures driving changes in the status and trends of forest, wetland, and marine and coastal ecosystem services and their impacts on the socio-economy?
4. How might ecosystems and their services change in the future under various plausible scenarios?
5. What is the legal and institutional framework for biodiversity and ecosystem services and what are the impacts, gaps and recommendations to enhance ecosystems and their services?
The assessment reveals that these ecosystems, along with the vital social and economic services they provide, are under threat. The report highlights the main pressures driving the trends in degradation of the nation’s ecosystems, the impacts of these changes on the economy and the society, and the current responses by the Government of Vietnam to raise the population’s awareness of this degradation, and to design and implement suitable preventative and remedial actions such as payments for forest environmental services to communities to reverse this decline.
Following a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the nation’s ecosystems and their services, four future scenarios were explored. These are the ‘development as usual’ scenario, the ‘feasible baseline’ scenario, the ‘higher growth’ scenario and the scenario of ‘sustainable development associated with conservation’. For each of these scenarios, predicted changes in the importance of the drivers and pressures affecting ecosystems and their services, such as population growth, climate change, etc. were analysed. A range of proactive preventative management measures are also offered to counter ecosystem degradation and forestall ecosystem collapse. Finally, the report examines the existing legal and institutional framework for protecting the nation’s forest, wetland, and marine and coastal ecosystems and their services, along with conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, genetic resources and the role of traditional knowledge. The assessment also identifies gaps in the current framework and proposes ways for it to be strengthened, including amending and supplementing the Biodiversity Law and the relevant policies.
The NEA report puts forward 21 key messages highlighting main problems facing ecosystems and their services as well as principal solutions, linked to the five policy questions, including:
1. Vietnam has high biodiversity with an abundance of natural ecosystems, species, and rich and endemic genetic resources.
2. Most of important ecosystems are located in a system of 176 protected areas.
3. Ecosystems which provide the most services and are high in biodiversity and biological productivity tend to be degraded.
4. Traditional and indigenous knowledge on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are extremely diverse and abundant.
5. Ecosystems which provide the most services and are high in biodiversity and biological productivity contribute significant benefits to the socio-economy.
6. Forest ecosystems in Vietnam contribute to the socio-economy in a range of ways, including to local livelihoods through payments for forest environmental services.
7. Evaluation studies of ecosystems in Vietnam show how significant these services are in the socio-economy.
8. The services provided by Vietnam’s ecosystems are on a declining trend.
9. Societal awareness on the value of the benefits of ecosystem services is still low.
10. Seven factors as drivers of change in the status and trends of ecosystems affecting their services were identified by Vietnam’s national ecosystem assessment.
11. Five factors as pressures to change in the status and trends of ecosystems affecting their services were identified by Vietnam’s national ecosystem assessment.
12. The impact of changes in ecosystem services on the socio-economy shows a trade-off between increased production outputs and ecosystem degradation, leading to reduction in ecosystem services overall.
13. The first future plausible scenarios for ecosystems and their services were developed in Vietnam, examining the potential effects of changes in drivers and pressures.
14. The movement of drivers and pressures according to the scenarios developed under Vietnam’s NEA shows that some factors (such as population growth) will become less important while others (such as population distribution) will be more important.
15. The scenarios developed by Vietnam’s NEA predict changes in the quality of ecosystems and their services due to clear changes between the scenarios in provisioning and regulating services.
16. Seven sets of measures proposed in Vietnam’s NEA show ways to improve proactive management of ecosystems and their services.
17. The legal framework on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems is gradually being improved in Vietnam but it is still inconsistent or conflictive resulting in obstacles or difficulties in implementation.
18. The institutional framework on management of biodiversity and ecosystems in Vietnam has been reorganized, there are still overlaps in function and missions.
19. Policy documents have had significant impacts on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services in the country.
20. Existing policy measures have made significant contributions to maintain and enhance ecosystems and their services.
21. Specific recommendations to maintain and enhance ecosystem services are proposed by the national ecosystems assessment.
The above 21 key messages summarise the most important findings and recommendations from the NEA to be conveyed to policy makers and stakeholders of relevant sectors at all levels, aiming for their integration into relevant policy development and societal processes.