Countries that border the Mekong River can learn from Vietnam's excellent management of its Payments for Forest Environmental Services programme, said Luca Tacconi, Associate Dean of the College of the Asia and Pacific at Australia's Crawford School of Public Policy.

Tacconi made the statement at a seminar on payments for environmental services in Hanoi on November 24. Enterprises benefiting from unharmed forests fund the programme in Vietnam, while in Thailand, for example, the government must provide the funding.

The programme creates incentives for individuals and communities to protect environmental services by compensating them for any costs incurred in managing and providing those services.

In 2004, the Government of Vietnam, drawing on an internationally recognised system, laid the foundations for a nationwide programme set out in the revised Forest Protection and Development Law.

In 2008, a Government decision created support for pilot projects in Lam Dong and Son La provinces, and in 2011, the programme was implemented across the country.

Vietnam is the first country in Asia to use the Payments for Forest Environmental Services system nationwide.

Thirty-six of the country's 63 provinces have established steering committees to oversee the programme's implementation.

The programme collects up to 55 million USD annually.

Three years after it was set up, it had collected a total of 150 million USD for protecting and developing forest areas - and helping residents involved protect the environment.

Nguyen Dac Lam, Director of Nghe An province's Forest Protection and Development Fund, said investors and business owners should be responsible for paying for environmental services.

"It's reasonable to pay to protect nature when you benefit from it," Lam said.-VNA