The forestry sector is in urgent need of restructuring in order to improve the productivity and quality of forests, increase the added value of processed wooden products, and promote market expansion for timber products, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said.

During a recent meeting of the State Steering Committee on Forest Protection and Development in Hanoi, the Deputy PM urged the sector to focus on completing its annual plan.

Accordingly, afforestation and forest fire prevention measures will be implemented strictly, along with communication campaigns to raise the public’s awareness of the importance of forest protection. All harvesting of forest resources, mainly timber, is to be monitored carefully.

Incentive policies will be issued to encourage other sectors of the economy to invest in the field, thus boosting forest-based economic development.

Hai also called upon relevant units to complete the draft Decree on Forest Protection and Development with a focus on poverty reduction and support for ethic minority groups.

Between January and September 2014, cases of reported illegal forest activities went down by 10 percent compared to the same period last year. Over 151,000ha of forest were planted, accounting for 73 percent of the annual target.

By the end of September, nearly 7.5 million cubic metres of timber were extracted from forest plantations, accounting for 83.1 percent of the annual target. Meanwhile, the value of wood product exports reached 4,344 million USD, representing 76.2 percent of the year’s target.

According to Nguyen Ba Ngai, Deputy Director General of the Administration of Forestry, Vietnam has generated 158 million USD from Payments for Forest Ecosystem Services (PFES) since 2010.

Revenue raised by the scheme is used to protect 2.8-3.4 million hectares of forest each year, accounting for 20-24 percent of the country’s total forest coverage.

Vietnam is the first Asian nation to implement PFES, benefitting foresters, as well as protecting and preserving the country's natural heritage.-VNA