Indigenous trees for rural beautification in Viet Nam

Indigenous trees for rural beautification in Viet Nam

Viet Nam - 15 April, 2021

The farmers’ association of Krông Bông district in Viet Nam’s Đắk Lắk Province used the knowledge they gained from trainings of Tropenbos Viet Nam to support the planting of indigenous trees, as part of a government initiative aimed at beautifying the countryside. This will not only please the eye, but is also good for the soils, and will provide people with fruits and high-quality timber.

“Beautiful houses, clean roads, and environmentally-friendly fields”— that is the English name of an initiative launched by the government of Vietnam’s Đắk Lắk Province to make the countryside more attractive, among others by planting flowers, shrubs and trees. Organizations such as farmers’ associations are expected to implement the initiative throughout the province.

In Krông Bông district, the farmers’ association decided it would take a different approach from other districts and combine aesthetics with usefulness. Rather than aiming for quick results, by planting flowers and decorative shrubs and trees, they thought it would be better to invest in the long term, and focus on indigenous trees. These would not only look attractive, but would also increase soil health, provide shade and yield fruit and timber.

According to representatives of the farmers’ association, people had long been reluctant to plant indigenous trees, because they take such a long time to grow. The association’s decision to actively promote indigenous trees was the direct result of training in agroforestry and restoration organized by Tropenbos Viet Nam in 2019 and 2020. During these training sessions, a lot of attention was paid to the benefits of planting indigenous species, such as Hopea odorata, Michelia tonkinensis and Dalbergia tonkinensis.

The representatives of the farmers’ association who participated in the training passed on what they learned to other farmers. This meant that knowledge spread over the whole district. Moreover, the District Department of Agriculture and Rural Development supported the association, among others, by providing indigenous tree seedlings. The conditions were perfect for tree planting to take off.

In 2020, people all over the district started planting seedlings of indigenous species in their gardens and along roads. Based on a recent survey, the local government estimates that around 70% of the households in the district were engaged in the initiative, in one way or another.

For Tropenbos Viet Nam this was a somewhat unintended outcome of their capacity-building work with the farmers’ association. The beautification efforts may ultimately also contribute to the overall ambition of promoting restoration in the wider landscape. The experience that people all over the district are now gaining with planting indigenous trees is expected to further stimulate them to also plant trees in their agricultural fields and as part of restoration efforts. The beautification initiative may thus provide a fertile basis for wider tree-planting efforts in the district. And when tree planting gets scaled up, so will the livelihood and environmental benefits. This, in the end, is the objective of Tropenbos Viet Nam.