Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Programme (ARBCP)

Sub-national Level

Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Programme (ARBCP)


09 March 2012




GovernanceProject Implementation


Forest Ecosystems


USD 5,000,001 - USD 10,000,000



Winrock International; Lam Dong Province People's Committee


ASEAN Center for Biodiversity; UNESCAP; ADB’s Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative; US Forest Service

Supporters / Donors

United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Description of Intervention

• Mainstream pilot biodiversity conservation, PES and livelihoods activities in Lam Dong province;
• Implement a PES-bundling strategy in Lam Dong through development of forest carbon offset projects for sale, and assist the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam in testing its national climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy in the Dong Nai River Basin; and
• Establish a pilot PES policy in Cambodia.

Problems to be Addressed

The Greater Mekong Sub-region is one of the economically fastest growing regions globally, resulting in the fast pace of the loss of biodiversity. Given the economic nature of the current threats to biodiversity, a system of economic, social and policy incentives needs to be developed to preserve ecosystems.


Improve the management of natural resources and biodiversity in Southeast Asia and neighboring China


• To restore and maintaining ecosystem connectivity and function in biodiversity corridors and landscapes;
• To promote sustainable financing for biodiversity and natural resource conservation;
• To improve the livelihoods of the rural poor; and
• To strengthen environmental governance and institutional building

How It Fits into the EbA Concept

The project creates enabling socio-economic incentives and policy environments for restoring connectivity of ecosystems of the Lam Dong province. The project will show the linkages between the PES initiatives with Vietnam’s national climate change adaptation strategy in the Dong Nai River Basin. Although the project-related documents do not indicate the impacts of climate change in the Dong Nai River Basin, salinity intrusion is predicted under expected cimate change impacts by a few scientists. Hence, given the salinity intrusion as an effect of climate change, restoration and conservation of biodiversity along the Dong Nai River Basin can be considered as EbA.

Results / Outputs

•  The programme’s most significant achievement is the development of Vietnam’s landmark Pilot Payment for Forest  Environmental Services Policy (Decision 380 QD-TTg), the first of its kind in SE Asia
• Vietnam’s pilot PES policy is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia;
• Provincial biodiversity conservation action plan drafted by the Lam Dong Provincial People's Committee with ARBCP support;
• Improved and tested biodiversity conservation planning and administration by the Lam Dong province; 
• Improved management of over 650,000 ha of biologically significant forests and an additional 109,000 ha of protected forestland of key elephant and gaur habitat to improve ecosystem connectivity in the province; and
• Increased incomes for 1,400 forest-dependent households.

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned during implementation of the pilot PFES policy were manifold. They not only informed the shape and direction of the Programme but will also assist the Government of Vietnam in effectively implementing the PFES decree nationwide. Implementing such an innovative mechanism also involved many challenges.

• The identification and emergence of champions at all levels of the implementation process (national, provincial, district, and commune) was a key factor in the success of the pilot policy.

• The limited number of environmental services implemented under the pilot policy (water regulation, soil conservation, and landscape aesthetics) reduced the risk of implementation failure and made the pilot policy easier to approve. The policy also concentrated the learning effort entirely on two pilot areas.

• While studies were undertaken to determine the K coefficient for PFES payments, Lam Dong Province elected to keep the PFES payments consistent across all areas on a per-hectare basis, regardless of forest quality and degree of threat. This occurred because the primarily K’ho communities wanted an equal distribution of payment, and saw the K coefficient as a source of potential social discontent. Nevertheless, if these payments are to be effective in encouraging communities not only to keep forests intact but to improve their quality through sustainable land management practices, the K coefficient will have to be employed in due course.

• Despite the fact extensive studies were done to value the ecosystem services (as well as arrive upon the K coefficient), the final payment structure also took into consideration the socioeconomic and socio-political factors of the communities in question. Strictly adhering to the valuation studies, while scientifically robust, would not guarantee the uptake of the project and the backing of the community and payers.

• Lam Dong Province implemented a number of measures to raise public awareness on forest values and impart information on the PFES pilot policy to related departments, authorities, companies, and communities. The most effective way to raise the awareness of the community and households was deemed to be through village and/or commune meetings and information from the FMB during preparation of the forest protection contracts. For the paying companies and institutions, the flow of data and information through formal channels between the Government, Province/Ministry, Department and Company was the most effective way to raise awareness.

• The development of the management mechanism was greatly assisted by local household participation in its design, implementation, and evaluation. Local stakeholders suggested that payments through the FMBs would be most effective because they could track the payments and have a forum to resolve disputes.

Farmers from K’ho ethnic minority communities chose to form patrol units in the Da Nhim watershed to better patrol the forest under the PFES pilot policy.

• The proper and equitable distribution of payments is contingent on the equitable and precise allocation of forest parcels to households. However, lacking a private land tenure system and integrated land use planning, the process of forest demarcation, allocation, filing, and approval in Lam Dong Province required significant time and money, at times impeding the proper and timely disbursement of payments to households.

• There was an issue of whether payments under PFES should be considered state budget or whether they replaced the water-resource tax that hydropower plants had to pay. These and many other issues, connected to the innovative concept of PES, took time to resolve among various stakeholders. (Currently companies pay both the water resource tax and PFES monies.)

• Establishing automated gauging stations in a relatively remote provincial river basin was a great challenge. The choice of either relying on manual measurements of water flow, discharge, and sediment or fully automated systems (or something in between) needs to be made after taking full consideration of the institutional and technical capacities of all the actors that will be involved in monitoring.

• To increase the robustness of the existing monitoring approach, including the four gauging stations, a comprehensive monitoring system based on a watershed analysis, a system of sediment fences to measure sediment yields at the sub-catchment level, and depth surveys in the reservoir could be employed.

• To support monitoring of PFES mechanisms nationwide under the new PFES decree, it will be essential for MONRE and MARD to collaborate more effectively, harmonize efforts, and clarify roles.

• Setting up the PFES pilot policy and implementing it appropriately required the collaboration of many disparate stakeholders, from the national level (for example, MARD and other relevant ministries and agencies) to the provincial level (PPCs of the two provinces). As such, subordinate technical agencies did not always work closely and in a timely fashion, resulting in slower implementation, especially in allocation of the budget to the province.

• Key to the success of the valuation studies was the involvement of the Da Nhim Hydropower Station technical staff. Their involvement in the design and implementation of the valuation studies assured that relevant research questions were being asked; as a result, they were better able to articulate the results to policy decision-makers.

• Although increased patrolling increased the likelihood of detection of illegal logging, the entire enforcement system should be evaluated to determine the likelihood of arrest, successful prosecution, judgments, and penalties paid in cases where illegal activity can be proved.

• To implement the recently-passed national PFES decree, it is important to promote the Lam Dong Province PFES pilot area as a center for learning, sharing, and improving the PFES mechanism for the whole country.

Upscaling / Outreach Activities

The programme resulted in a national decree on Payments for Environmental Services (PES) in Vietnam, which the Government of Vietnam would now like to expand and replicate across the country, so there is great potential for upscaling the model ARBCP demonstrated in Lam Dong province across the country, and to other countries in the region.

Contact Details

Barry Flaming
U.S. Agency for International Development
Regional Development Mission for Asia
Athenee Tower, 25th Floor, 
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: (+66) 2 257 3000
Fax: (+66) 2 257 3099
Website: http://asia.­usaid.­gov

Relevent Publications

USAID: Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Program (ARBCP) factsheet:
USAID, Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Program (ARBCP), Winrock International. Payment for Forest Environmental Services: A Case Study on Pilot Implementation in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam 2006-2010.
Winrock International: Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Programme: