The Central Highlands region is the agricultural powerhouse of Vietnam, producing commodities for its citizens and the world. The boom in production has contributed significantly to economic growth and development in the country. The area is however one of the most severely affected by climate change in the world, with seasonal water shortages and rising temperatures, both threatening agricultural productivity and incomes. The IDH landscape program operates in two of the five provinces of Central Highlands: Lam Dong and Dak Lak with the aim to combine optimal commodity production with conserving water and forest as well as improving livelihoods. In close collaboration with the private sector operating in the area, the provincial and national governments, knowledge partners and NGOs, IDH is developing a Green Growth Plan with targets on production (of commodities), protection (water, forest) and inclusion (smallholder farmers, local communities). This plan is supported by a land- use plan, detailing how the various interventions spatially reinforce one another. The plan is also supported by enabling policies, that allow for better water and agrochemical management. Main work streams: agroforestry, water quantity and quality, and responsible agrochemical management systems.
The Central Highlands region covers an area of 54,700 km2, accounting for 16,3% of Vietnam. More than half of this area is covered in forest making it the densest part of the country. Moreover, the highly fertile land, a quarter of which is basalt, is ideal for growing perennial crops and the area is rich in minerals such as coal, bauxite, iron, zinc and rock crystals. The Central Highlands is thus vital for the production of some of the country’s key agricultural and forestry commodities including coffee, pepper, rubber, cashew, tea and cocoa. The population of the Central Highlands region is around 5.46 million with (2014) 45 different ethnic groups.
The agricultural development in the Central Highlands contributes greatly to exports and economic growth in Vietnam. Thanks to economic liberalization, government leadership Vietnam has become the world’s second largest exporter of coffee and top producer of pepper globally. However, the intensive agricultural development is contributing to degradation of the ecosystems in the Central Highlands and the services they provide to the economy and the communities in the landscape. The main challenges include diminishing water supply, deforestation and land degradation.
Since 2014, the IDH landscape program operates in two of the five provinces of Central Highlands: Lam Dong and Dak. We address the challenge through the following work streams: agroforestry, water, and agrochemical management.
In both provinces, a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee under the leadership of the PPC has been established that oversees the implementation of the program, supported by technical working groups on water and agroforestry.
The program implements, together with coffee, spices, tea and hydropower companies, government, knowledge partners and NGOs projects on watershed management: detailing and testing how water quality and quantity can be best managed across water users and land owners.
Agroforestry & Reforestation
The program implements agroforestry on coffee and pepper farms, with the aim to shift from full sun production to a ‘garden’ landscape with shade trees, wind breaks, ecological corridors and diversified food and cash crops for the farmers that make their income more resilient. This is combined with reforesting long the top of the watershed, to re-create the natural water management.
Responsible Agrochemical Management
The program helps develop responsible agrochemical management systems in the Central Highlands, resulting in healthier working conditions and food, and at the same time better water quality.
Green Growth and land-use management plans
All interventions are linked to a Green Growth Plan with targets on production (of commodities), protection (water, forest) and inclusion (smallholder farmers, local communities). This plan is supported by a land-use plan, detailing how the various interventions spatially reinforce one another. The plan is also supported by enabling policies, that allow for better water and agrochemical management.
The combination of interventions restores the forest cover in the Central Highlands, contributing to better soil fertility, less water evaporation and run off, a more stable micro climate and diversified income. At the same time the water use is brought down to ensure shortages in supply occur less often and water quality is improving. This creates a landscape that is ready for the future.
The Little Sustainable Landscapes Book, which was launched at the COP21 in Paris, is now available Spanish, making it available for a large audience base, primarily in Latin America, where it is most relevant.
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