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An integrated eco-socio-economic analysis of forest transition and forest restoration in Vietnam




Khuc, Quy Van, author
Paschke, Mark W., advisor
Pham, Dien V., advisor
Loomis, John B., committee member
Cheng, Antony S., committee member

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Forests provide numerous benefits to human well-being, so changes in forest cover have large societal impacts from local to global scales. Several studies in Vietnam and elsewhere have found single solutions for increasing forest cover. However, a comprehensive solution for harnessing forest restoration to satisfy growing demands for sustainable global development that improves rural community livelihood, enhances biodiversity and environmental services, and mitigates climate change is lacking. This dissertation focuses on obtaining a deeper understanding of forest transition, forest restoration, and their proximate drivers as well as trade-offs of land use in upland forests in Vietnam. This dissertation is a collection of four independent studies. The first study quantified the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation at a national scale in Vietnam. Results show that around 1.77 and 0.65 million hectares of forests were lost or degraded, respectively, between 2000 and 2010. Deforestation and forest degradation declined in Vietnam between 2000 and 2010, but these processes remain significant. The extent and magnitude of deforestation and degradation vary across provinces and were most notable in the north central, northeast, central highland, and northwest areas of the nation. Poverty, initial forest cover, governance, and population growth were the top drivers of deforestation and degradation. The second study investigated the extent of forest restoration and its proximate drivers at the local-communal scale in Vietnam's Dien Bien Province. Geographic information system (GIS) tools, a structural regression model based on forest cover maps, and a field survey were employed while numerous socio-economic variables that were potentially associated with forest restoration were examined. I found that around 118,000 hectares of forests were restored between 1990 and 2010. Restored forest comprised the largest share (above 84%) of total forest gain and this share increased from 1990-2000 to 2000-2010. Expansion of restored forest was mainly driven by the presence of migration, lower population density, higher income, and the implementation of forestry policies. The third study explored the willingness of urban households to support forest restoration in Vietnam. I randomly surveyed over 200 households in the capital city Hanoi and a maximum likelihood estimator model was used to obtain the parameters of a model to quantify willingness-to-pay (WTP) for a program of forest restoration. Over forty percent of the households surveyed were willing to pay for forest restoration. As well as quantified determinants of WTP, my findings suggest that either improving households' income and educational level or focusing on females in the family may represent untapped sources of restoration funding among urban households. Finally, in a fourth study, the potentials and challenges of climate change mitigation programs in the north central region of Vietnam demonstrate possible scenarios associated with many levels of uncertainty. The role of plantation forests in total household income was quantified, trade-offs between shifting cultivation and plantation forests were analyzed and the factor groups that constrain plantation forest expansion were highlighted. My empirical results offer several important policy implications, not only for forest restoration practices as part of forest-based climate change mitigation programs but also for sustainable mountainous rural livelihood development in Vietnam and beyond.


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