Tropenbos Viet Nam works in the Srepok River Basin in the Central Highlands. The river basin measures about 15,300 km2 with some 2.14 million people living in the area. It is home to 12 native ethnic groups and migrants, who mainly come from Viet Nam’s Central and Northern provinces.
The river basin has a wide variety of land-use types, including agricultural production, forestry plantations, animal husbandry, protected areas, and residential areas. Important cash crops include coffee, cotton, maize, tea and pepper. The Central Highlands is also the region with the largest remaining natural forests of Viet Nam, and a high degree of biodiversity. Forested land covers about 2.5 million ha (c. 45.8% of the land area), of which 2.25 million ha are natural forests in various states of intactness, and 250,000 ha plantation forests. There are three important National Parks located in the Srepok River basin (Chu Yang Sin, Bi Doup-Nui Ba, and Yok Don), and several Nature Reserves (Nam Ka, Tà Đùng, Dray Sap).
Over the last decades, the Government of Viet Nam has implemented several initiatives on forest protection and restoration in the region. However, forest areas continue to decline: The current annual rate of deforestation is about 34,000 ha. Moreover, climate change is expected to increase the water needs of coffee and other crops, while the decrease in forest cover and overexploit ground water for irrigation may result in reduced water availability and lower the level of ground water. This will put local livelihoods and forest in the river basin at risk.
Tropenbos Viet Nam envisions a Srepok River Basin where forests are protected and restored so they continue to provide essential ecosystem services for the landscape. Communities in the landscape are able to participate in forest restoration and management, and obtain benefits from these forest resources, for example through agroforestry, non-timber forest products, or timber. In addition, coffee farms will apply climate smart practices to increase their resilience to climate shocks, and coffee agroforestry is used to restore ecosystem functions in essential areas. Especially, all stakeholders work together to develop, implement and monitor landscape restoration plans.