Two new papers by the University of Leeds and World Land Trust have laid bare the problem of illegal logging in Vietnam. Find out how you can help with Carbon Balanced Paper.

The scale of illegal logging in Vietnam and its devastating impact on the environment has been highlighted by the release of two new academic papers. Published by researchers at the University of Leeds in partnership with the environmental charity World Land Trust, the research explains just how damaging illegal logging has been to natural habitats and wildlife, as well as how much carbon previously stored in the forest has been released into the atmosphere, increasing the effects of climate change.

The research found that not only has illegal logging in Vietnam created areas of forest that are unlikely to recover, the practice releases as much as 130,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year into the atmosphere, as well as losing vital plant and animal species.

“Less than 10% of natural forests in Vietnam are considered to be good quality”

A critical time

While these are vital areas of research in their own right, they have a particular relevance to the Carbon Balanced Paper programme. Since 2010, Carbon Balanced Paper has been raising funds for World Land Trust projects that preserve areas of natural land in the Khe Nuoc Trong region of Vietnam – the area where the research took place.

Khe Nuoc Trong is one of the best remaining examples of Annamite lowland forest in the world and home to 23 vulnerable animal species, nine of which are defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered and 10 critically endangered. But World Land Trust is working hard to preserve a number of areas of Khe Nuoc Trong and safeguard the animals and their habitats within it.

Given its history, Vietnam is of particular concern. After the Vietnam War, state forestry companies extensively logged forests throughout the country – a practice that was only banned in 2005. Now, less than 10% of natural forests in Vietnam are considered to be good quality.

High quality old growth forests are essential for the survival of many vulnerable species, including the endangered Red-shanked Douc, photographed here at Khe Nuoc Trong. © Bjornolesen.com/Viet Nature

Local heroes

As well as talking to local people, the researchers did an extensive survey of the Khe Nuoc Trong forests. What they found was that areas where little illegal logging had occurred stored twice as much carbon as areas that had been heavily logged, highlighting the environmental damage caused by unsustainable logging. If the amount of illegal logging can be reduced, forests should be able to recover, storing more carbon and helping to slow down the rate of climate change.

However, while logging remains officially banned, many local families rely on the forest for fuel, as well as its wildlife for food. Viet Nature, a Vietnamese NGO and World Land Trust partner, are using information from the research to work with local communities to reduce the amount of logging and encourage the development of acacia plantations – a more sustainable source of timber.

For more detailed information about the reports:

Stas et al., Logging intensity drives variability in carbon stocks in lowland forests in Vietnam, Forest Ecology and Management, 460, 117863, 2020.
Ngo et al., The potential for REDD+ to reduce forest degradation in Vietnam, Environmental Research Letters, 2020.

How you can help

As well as working with the researchers to monitor the recovery of the forest, World Land Trust are continuing to secure areas of the Khe Nuoc Trong region. And you can help, by getting involved with Carbon Balanced Paper and offsetting the carbon emissions from your office paper and marketing communications.

The Carbon Balanced Paper initiative is supported by a number of paper merchants that offer high quality papers suitable for all printing needs and marketing campaigns. The carbon impact of the production and distribution of those papers is balanced by World Land Trust, allowing your company to include a unique logo on your print run to demonstrate your commitment to the environment.

In the eight years it’s been running, more than 2,000 brands have used Carbon Balanced Paper to offset their carbon emissions, including Unilever, Scottish Power, Anglian Water, Dulux and Specsavers, helping protect land and forests that offset over 50,000 tonnes of CO2.

A long-time patron and supporter of World Land Trust, David Attenborough understands the value of carbon balancing, something shared by the Carbon Balanced Paper programme. “The money that is given to World Land Trust has, in my opinion, more effect on the wild world than almost anything I can think of,” he says.

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