Operation revival

Afforestation : In 1993, a 10-year programme was initiated to regreen the barren lands of Vietnam. But as one diplomat in Hanoi pointed out, the government went about the task of greening the land "in a militaristic manner', and planted eucalyptus and other exotic species over large stretches of the country. Despite that, the current rate of afforestation of about 50,000 ha to 100,000 ha a year is not keeping pace with the rate of deforestation. Even though the area under plantations is growing, the area under natural forests is coming down steadily at the same time. A major problem that the country faces is shortage of funds for afforestation. The government is making efforts to involve poor farmers in planting trees and wean them away from cultivating unproductive areas.

Protected areas : Setting up protected areas (PAs) has become a matter of high priority for the government. A beginning has been made by declaring 87 areas as reserves. This preliminary system protects a total of 1.1 million hectare (mha) or three per cent of the country. By the year 2000, the ministry of forestry plans to extend the area of nature reserves and national parks to over two mha and will conduct a feasibility study.

In Vietnam, the government has realised the fact that because of the heavy population density, there is almost no PA which is not being used by the local people. The country's biodiversity action plan states, "There is simply no option for creating vast protection areas with no human intrusion