The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is seeking ways to calculate forest-preserving charges for power and water users in the country to contribute money.
Under the policy, visitors and water and power users in the localities pay for forest rangers via water companies, hydropower plants and travel agents operating at special-use forests. The fees are VND40 for each cubic meter of water and VND20 for a kilowatt of electricity.
Customers of Dai Ninh, Da Nhim and Hoa Binh power plants in Hoa Binh Province and hydropower plants in Son La Province also pay for rangers of watershed forests. Visitors have the fees included in tourism products.
Vietnam is the first nation in Southeast Asia to carry out such a program to pay for forest protection services and plans to expand it. The ministry will set aside 10% of the fees collected for the forest protection and development fund, 10% for management and 80% for forest rangers.
Results of the Da Nhim River Valley preservation project suggest that water regulation and forest soil protection costs are VND240,000 and VND880,000 for each hectare of forest per year. The costs are equivalent to environment protection charges of VND11 for a cubic meter of water and VND32 per kilowatt.
Rames Peter, director of the Dong Nai River Valley preservation project, said each hectare of upstream protective forest could help Da Nhim Hydropower Plant earn nearly US$70 per year. Meanwhile, five hydropower plants along the Sap Spring in Son La Province can earn VND3 billion per month each thanks to 14,000 hectares of protective forest but just VND15.7 billion per year if the forest is chopped down.
Vuong Van Quynh from the Vietnam Forestry University suggested charging 50% and 70% of power and water costs, or 6.6% and 3.3% of electric and water prices respectively. The way is suitable as we will not have to calculate again due to price hikes, he told a seminar on environment charges in Hanoi on Tuesday.
Son La Province expects to reach VND400-800 billion from the charges within a few years, increasing by four to eight times from the current level.