Vietnam earned 58 million USD from the collection of payments for eco system service (PES) schemes in 2012, the equivalent to the State budget allocation for the forestry sector.

Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan praised the news of the income. "This is an encouraging figure given that this scheme was put in place on a wide scale just a year ago. It has been proved that PES is a good scheme to raise funds for forest protection," he said in a briefing to foreign partners reviewing the sector's performance at the annual meeting of the Forest Sector Support Partnership held in Hanoi on January 31.

In 2012, PES was collected from hydro-electric plants and water supply plants. The agriculture ministry is working on other potential sources including eco-tourism.

Some other key figures for the forestry sector have also been revealed. The export revenue of the timber processing industry last year was 4.6 billion USD, a 17 percent increase from 2011's figure.

Forest coverage increased from 33.2 percent in 2009 to 39.7 percent last year, which was close to the 40 percent target.

Last year also saw a remarkable increase in official development assistance (ODA) funding channeled into the sector. There were eight projects whose total financing was worth 117 million USD compared to about 29 million USD in 2011.

Deputy Director General of the ministry's Forestry Department Vo Dai Hai said the sector will have to adjust itself to changes in the international market that may affect Vietnam 's export-based timber processing industry.

In the meantime, the focus is to ensure Vietnamese timber products meet the requirements of import markets, such as the European Union's Forest Law Enforcement and Governance regulations and the United States ' Lacey Act, which ban the import of any wood products made from illegally harvested timber.

Hai said Vietnam would need international assistance to ensure this is achieved.

The meeting was held by the ministry in co-operation with Japan International Cooperation Agency and German Agency for International Cooperation.-VNA