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WWF works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries.
Viet Nam is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, but decades of illegal logging, poaching, wildlife trade, and agricultural conversion have led to staggering losses of natural forest and declines in wildlife populations, with some species on the edge of extinction. Biodiversity loss and environmental crime sustain poverty for vulnerable communities, undermine the rule of law, endanger vital ecosystem services, and hinder Viet Nam’s contributions to global biodiversity and climate goals.
Under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Biodiversity Conservation (2020-2025) project, WWF, in partnership with the government of Viet Nam and conservation partners, is working to maintain and increase forest quality and protect and stabilize wildlife populations in protected areas. This five-year, $43 million project is the single largest ever investment in biodiversity conservation in Viet Nam.
Working in 21 protected areas across eight provinces, primarily in the Central Annamites, the project aims to achieve this by promoting conservation-friendly enterprises, strengthening the management of protected areas, increasing the functionality of law enforcement to address forest and wildlife crimes, and reducing local consumer demand for illegal wildlife products.
One of the primary goals of the project is to bring nearly 1.5 million acres of biodiversity-rich forest—an area the size of Delaware—under improved management. We can achieve this by strengthening institutions, developing collaborative management mechanisms to increase community participation, enhancing patrolling efforts and techniques, streamlining biodiversity monitoring, and building the capacity of local organizations working on species conservation.
Underpinning these efforts is the establishment of a biodiversity baseline to understand the diversity and richness of species in Viet Nam. Under the project, we completed baseline biodiversity surveys using camera traps in all 21 protected areas. These surveys, along with a pilot survey based on novel environmental DNA techniques, forms the basis for the most comprehensive biodiversity assessment ever conducted in Viet Nam. The project has also facilitated the development of collaborative management mechanisms in eight sites, assessed institutional training needs for better protected area management, deployed a national-level SMART data model, and awarded four grants to civil society and research organizations focused on the conservation of species unique to the Annamites.
Engaging communities living in and near protected areas is key to successful conservation outcomes. As part of efforts to stop forest and wildlife crime in Viet Nam, USAID Biodiversity Conservation works to build the capacity of local law enforcement and judicial systems to increase the detection and prosecution of these crimes. The project complements these efforts by establishing community-based patrols and mechanisms for the public to anonymously report wildlife crime.
We have established more than 30 community patrol teams to aid in protected area management, remove snares set by illegal hunters, and dismantle hunting camps—with all data recorded using the SMART mobile application to contribute to a holistic picture of wildlife crime in Viet Nam. The project has also developed a strategy to strengthen collaboration between different government agencies on wildlife crime and conducted assessments of wildlife trade routes in multiple provinces to better understand the drivers behind the illegal wildlife trade.
Many forest-dependent communities lack the resources needed to diversify their incomes away from forest extraction practices like hunting and logging. USAID Biodiversity Conservation provides training, equipment, and other support to help communities make the transition to conservation-friendly enterprises, such as growing passion fruit or other high-value agricultural products, and community-based ecotourism, which boost incomes while reducing pressures on the environment.
USAID Biodiversity Conservation has identified several viable value chains and ecotourism opportunities to develop and increase the incomes of communities living near protected areas. To date, several hundred households living in the buffer zones of protected areas have increased their incomes because of this engagement. By connecting communities with markets for high-value agriculture and with tourism companies to develop community-based ecotourism sites, the project is promoting sustainable alternatives to forest-dependent livelihoods.
The illegal wildlife trade is driven by many factors, among them a demand for wild meat and wildlife products both domestically and abroad. Working in tandem with the USAID Saving Threatened Wildlife project, USAID Biodiversity Conservation aims to curb domestic demand for wildlife meat through behavior change campaigns that raise awareness of the environmental, health, and legal risks of consuming wildlife products, as well as increase community engagement in reporting wildlife crime.
To date, the project has conducted a series of campaigns targeted towards urban wild meat consumers, with more than 10 million people reached on social media. USAID Biodiversity Conservation has also organized a series of workshops to coordinate wild meat reduction efforts and garner political support at the provincial level.
USAID Biodiversity Conservation works with vulnerable communities and ethnic minorities in rural Viet Nam who have historically relied on natural resources to meet their livelihood needs. With natural resources in decline, the project aims to strengthen their participation in biodiversity conservation, diversify their incomes to decrease their reliance on hunting and logging, and raise awareness of how healthy ecosystems provide us with the necessary services, such as clean air and water, needed to thrive.
The project works with community stakeholders to ensure a bottom-up approach to implementation that not only consults but engages communities in decision-making processes. As part of this approach, the project has conducted Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) trainings with communities prior to implementing collaborative management and community patrolling activities. FPIC is a specific right granted to Indigenous peoples recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that allows them to provide or withhold consent at any point regarding projects impacting their territories. This universal right of self-determination allows Indigenous peoples to engage in negotiations to shape the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of projects.
The project employs robust measures to eliminate, mitigate, and monitor potential negative environmental and social risks, in alignment with USAID’s Environmental Mitigation and Monitoring requirements and WWF’s own Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework.
This content is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.