This term ‘reversal’ as used in this safeguard is specific to REDD+. Viet Nam defines the risk of reversals as either:
- the possibility of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, achieved through the implementation of REDD+ policies and measures, increasing in the future; or
- the possibility of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere, through the implementation of REDD+ policies and measures, being released back into the atmosphere in the future.
There are many potential causes of reversals, which can be both anthropogenic (such as logging) and natural (such as fire or pest outbreaks).
Viet Nam has made a number of political commitments to address deforestation and increase forest cover, including as a means to mitigating climate change. Viet Nam’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to tackle climate change commits to increasing forest cover to 45% by 2030, and the National REDD+ Programme (NRAP) mirrors this objective.
The Land Law (2013) provides conditions and criteria for changing land use purpose; changing the land use purpose from forest land to other types of agricultural land and non-agricultural land is subject to the Prime Minister’s approval for areas of Protection Forest and Special Use Forest greater than 20 ha, and to the People’s Council’s Resolution for areas of Protection Forest and Special Use Forest less than 20 ha. The Forestry Law (2017) requires that forest planning should be based on 30- to 50-year vision, and that changes to forest purpose must be in line with the Forest Protection and Development Plan and Land Use Plan, must have approval from the regulatory agency, must have an associated and approved investment project, and must include a plan for offset planting.
The Forestry Law (2017), explicitly prohibits the conversion of natural forests (except in cases of nationally important projects, national defence projects, or other critical projects approved by the government). Projects proposing land/forest use changes are subject to environmental impact assessment, which would highlight the need for very high-level approvals for even small areas of forest land use change. These controls contribute to addressing the risks of reversals.
The National Assembly makes decisions on changing forest land to non-forestry purposes in cases of more than 50 ha, and approves changes in forest type based on proposals by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). MARD makes proposals on changing forest type. MARD also leads the coordination of forest surveys and leads the establishment of the National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS).
Provincial People’s Committees may make decisions on change of forest land to non-forestry land up to 20 ha for Special Use Forests/Protection Forests and up to 50 ha for Production Forests. Provincial People’s Committees also coordinate forest surveys in their provinces. Provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Forest Protection Departments report on forest status as part of their Provincial Forest Monitoring Systems.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is responsible for developing legal guidance on social and environmental impact assessment, and is responsible for their appraisal and approval for national and multi-province projects. Provincial Departments of Natural Resources and the Environment are responsible for appraisal/approval of environmental impact assessments within their respective localities
 Prime Minister’s Decision No. 2053/2016/QD-TTg.
 NRAP 2017, Decision No 419/QD-TTg dated 5/4/2017. Annex: Policies and Measures for REDD+ implementation for period of 2017 – 2020
 The Land Law (2013), Articles 57 & 58.
 The Forestry Law (2017, effective 1 January 2019), Articles 9 & 19-20.
 The Forestry Law (2017, effective 1 January 2019). Article 14.
 Government Decree No. 18/2015/ND-CP; MONRE Circular No. 27/2015/BTNMT.
Actions to address the risks of reversals in Viet Nam include the following:
- Analysing the risk of reversals of emission reductions/removals.
- Selecting and designing REDD+ policies and measures taking into account the risks of reversals. This may involve consideration of the long-term financial and ecological sustainability of planned policies and measures, legal and regulatory frameworks, and potential changes in environmental conditions and the comprehensive analysis of the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation;
Designing and operating a National Forest Monitoring System to contribute to detecting and providing information on reversals;