Introducing regulatory reforms in the A’Vuong watershed

2003 Winner

WWF is a non-profit (charity) foundation with its Secretariat based in Gland, Switzerland. Currently there are more than 1300 WWF conservation projects underway around the world. The vast majority of these focus on local issues. They range from school nature gardens in Zambia, to initiatives that appear on the packaging in your local supermarket. From the restoration of orang-utan habitats to the establishment of giant panda reserves.


The project developed a comprehensive framework for the management of freshwater and forest resources by indigenous Ka Tu communities in the upland watershed areas of Quang Nam province, Central Vietnam.

Project Description

The livelihood of the people in Quang Nam province is highly dependent on natural resources. Hunger and poverty have taken their toll on the region, leading to the overexploitation of forest areas and water resources. The result has been an increase in seasonal droughts, flooding and erosion.

Country / Region

Quang Nam Province is located in the centre of Vietnam, 860 km south of Ha Noi Capital and 865 km north of Ho Chi Minh City. It is laced with rivers, estuaries, lakes and lagoons. The upland A’Vuong is one of the primary watersheds feeding the Thu Bon River system in the mountainous Quang Nam Province, which supports the subsistence and income of an estimated one million people. These watershed areas, the ecosystem and the species are under great threat.


The mountainous region of Quang Nam Province is rated as one of the poorest in Vietnam. The Committee for Ethnic Minorities and Mountainous Areas (CEMMA) has ranked 60 communes in the six mountain districts as highest priority for poverty alleviation and development assistance, out of a total of 63 communes in the region. The population of these six districts is 87 % ethnic minority, from 12 different ethnic groups.

Information about local context

In the upper A’Vuong area, transport, market access, education, basic infrastructure, health care and social services are all minimal, whilst the effects of war are still present. “Agent Orange” defoliant, carpet-bombing, unexploded ordnance, and massive social upheaval have ongoing repercussions on the stability and development of communities and local institutions in the area, 30 years after the conflict ended.

Project update 2007

The project laid the foundation for many processes that continue today. The provincial government endorsed the forest land allocation programme and to date has developed land use plans for 39 communities throughout Quang Nam Province. Through a partnership with the Asian Development Bank and Electricity Vietnam a payment system for watershed management has been implemented. Its idea is to give part of the revenue from the electricity generated by the A’Vuong dam back to the communities for forest management and protection activities as well as livelihood development grants. Village protection teams have been introduced in 26 communities. Their functions include the protection of community forest resources from uncontrolled harvesting by outsiders, as agreed in the community forest regulations, and informing the local authorities of any serious forest crimes. These functions are now being extended to community forest management planning and legal harvesting mechanisms. They are also linked to market channel surveys and small business training for communities.

Submitted by: 
Vietnam Office of WWF Indochina
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Vietnam Office of WWF Indochina
Barney Long / Dao Nguyen / James Hardcastle