Stakeholders from central and local government agencies and civil society organizations provided comments on Viet Nam’s draft Biodiversity Corridors Decree at an IUCN-supported national workshop on 16 March intended to gather input for use in the document’s final revisions. The Decree will be issued under a new Biodiversity Law, which the National Assembly adopted in November to take effect on July 1, 2009.
“We are trying to bring the Biodiversity Law and the Decree together in a mutually reinforcing manner,” said Huynh Thi Mai of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE). “Ultimately, any law is only as good as its enforceability – a fact we have to remember when trying to write the appropriate level of strictness into the Decree.”
Within the funding support of the Core Environment Program and the Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS-CEP-BCI), cofinanced by the Poverty Reduction Cooperation Fund and the governments of the Netherlands and Sweden, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has been working with MONRE to develop the Decree. ADB has been coordinating GMS countries to implement GMS-CEP-BCI since 2006, and MONRE has been assigned to implement the program, which contributed to the biodiversity law and decree, in Viet Nam. The process of preparing the Biodiversity Corridors Decree to guide implementation of the Biodiversity Law began in 2007, and the Decree is slated for approval in 2009. IUCN has been supporting MONRE with technical assistance for the development of the Decree.
The Decree strives to address the internationally recognized problem that, in the face of habitat loss and fragmentation, protected areas alone often do not offer sufficient space for threatened species to thrive. It would establish regulations for creating and managing biodiversity corridors – land or water pathways that improve linkages between protected areas and other biodiversity hotspots to allow wildlife to migrate, escape threats, and find food and mates.
Such corridors have been established in eastern Europe, Latin America and other parts of Asia. The draft Decree for Viet Nam outlines guidelines for biodiversity corridor planning, establishment, operation, support and monitoring. Stakeholders put forth comments at Thursday’s workshop to help fit the Decree more suitably to the Viet Nam context.
Authorities from Quang Nam and Quang Tri provinces, where possible corridor sites have been identified, asked whether the Decree could include more information about the technical requirements constituting a corridor and the legal mandate for committees that would manage corridors. They also requested details about funding structures for operating the corridors and for giving incentives to local communities to agree to change land uses to ensure that corridors can function.
Javed Mir of ADB said it is important to design biodiversity corridor regulations in line with local and national priorities, and in a way that matches existing forest protection and land-use laws.
”We have to be careful not to add contradictions, but to find gaps in those laws that can be filled,” Mir said. “Viet Nam already has classifications, like for special-use forests, that can be used as guides for the functional, multi-use corridors we hope to create.”
The corridors, as described by the Decree, differ from protected areas in that they could run through inhabited land, and local communities would be encouraged to participate in their design and maintenance. As such, each corridor would be designed on a case-by-case basis, according to the needs of local people and species.
“The Decree must provide the flexibility for corridors to be established based on the facts on the ground and operated in cooperation with people living in them,” said IUCN’s Asia Regional Law Programme Head, Patti Moore. “Experience around the world has shown that establishing corridors requires a solid scientific basis, a long-term commitment, incentives for local people to participate and an adaptive operational strategy.”
The drafting committee will review the stakeholder comments from the workshop to revise the Decree.
For more information, please contact Ms. Ly Thi Minh Hai at firstname.lastname@example.org.