People benefit from Green Annamites Project hinh anh 1A local ethnic Co Tu farmer clears his timber farm in central Quang Nam province. (Photo: VNA)

Quang Nam (VNS/VNA) -
Nearly 30,000 people have benefited from improved natural resource management and biodiversity conservation thanks to the Green Annamites Project in Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue provinces.

The project has been sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2016-2020.

It also reduced the amount of carbon dioxide released per year into the atmosphere by 11.6 million tonnes  – 10 times the amount caused by Vietnam’s airline industry.

Director of the Green Annamites Project, Daniel Lopez, said: “Over the past four years, the USAID Green Annamites project has invested 23.9 million USD to help the provinces of Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue to protect the region’s globally significant biodiversity and help local and ethnic minority communities to diversify and improve their livelihoods.”

“USAID has trained 15,254 people on sustainable landscapes and 9,669 people on natural resource management and biodiversity conservation; supported the improved natural resource management of 512,000ha of biological significant land; contributed to 13,387 people receiving livelihood co-benefits and 15,321 people receiving increased economic benefits from improved natural resource management and biodiversity conservation,” he said.

The project had also mobilised 59.8 million USD in external investment for value chain development, women’s economic empowerment, medicinal plants and handicrafts production, and forest restoration work. 

Mission Director Ann Marie Yastishock said: “It has been a great honour for USAID to collaborate with partners from Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam to advance their commitment to strengthen the livelihoods of mountainous communities, conservation enterprise development, biodiversity conservation, and forest restoration and management.”

“The success of the USAID Green Annamites project and the strong collaboration between the Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue People’s Committees to implement this effort have contributed to the enhanced development co-operation between Vietnam and the United States,” she added.

USAID will continue to support biodiversity conservation in the two provinces for the next five years through the recently awarded USAID Biodiversity Conservation and USAID Sustainable Forest Management projects.

These new projects will enable the continuation of the beneficial approaches developed under the Green Annamites Project, transferring positive benefits to other provinces and communities in Vietnam.

Chairman of the Quang Nam People’s Committee Le Tri Thanh praised the success of the project, saying it had surpassed its goals in terms of carbon emissions, improved management, fundraising, livelihood benefits, biodiversity protection and climate change resilience.

“We would like to express our sincere thanks to USAID for the financial and technical assistance during the project's implementation over the past four years. It has helped improve the capability of our management staff, while creating sustainable livelihoods for the community and protecting natural resources,” Thanh said.

“The project has also helped improve incomes for more than 17,000 people, while value chains for timber forests and medicinal herbs have emerged,” he said.

Vo Danh Du, Chairman of Thua Thien-Hue's Forest Owners’ Sustainable Development Association (FOSDA), said 1,500 forest owners – six times more than the initial partners – had got involved in sustainable forest development in the province.

He said many timber farm owners could earn 350 million VND (15,000 USD) per hectare, while protecting natural forests.

Le Ba Ngoc, Chairman of the Vietnam Crafts Export Association (VietCraft), said about 600 households in 14 rural mountainous communes across Quang Nam province had benefited from the Green Annamites Project.

“The project helped 150 households increase their incomes by 65 percent in just 13 months from farming sustainable medicinal herbs. 400 other households were trained in forestry processing and received technical assistance to cultivate 100ha of rattan,” Ngoc said.

“Trade and craft production links were built between local ethnic groups with five businesses and eight shops in Hanoi and HCM City. Contracts worth a total of 2 billion VND (87,000 USD) for craft production and sale were inked between local people and those businesses,” he said.

Ngoc said 721 households, of which 370 belonged to ethnic Cơ Tu women, had started sustainable crafts production as part of the project.

The project also helped revive traditional brocade weaving and rattan crafts while discouraging illegal hunting and logging.

Co Thi Ich, a Co Tu woman from Gary commune in Tay Giang district of Quang Nam province, said the ethnic group previously lived from forestry exploitation, but the project had helped change their lives for the better.

“Many members of our ginseng co-operative earn 70 million VND (3,000 USD) per year. We have been trained how to grow ginseng sustainably and create high value products,” she said.

Ich said ethnic groups still needed assistance to classify and preserve ginseng seeds for longer crops.

The Green Annamites Project also helped Quang Nam province launch a new elephant conservation area in Nong Son district, while conduct biodiversity monitoring, and raise conservation awareness among locals./.