Vietnam Growing Larger Trees to Raise Wood Product Exports

Subsidies for farmers to grow plantations

Wed 17 Apr 24


Certification of more than one million hectares of large-sized timber forests is a passport for Vietnam’s wood processing industry to increase exports and reduce dependence on imported raw materials.

The southeast Asian country has about 4 million hectares of production forests, which provide about 20 million cubic metres of wood, planted mainly with acacia, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and pine.

However, government forest authorities have urged producers to switch to investing in large-sized timber forests to further increase export value.

Statistically, of the existing 4 million hectares of production forests, the area of large timber plantations is currently about 440,000 hectares of trees over ten years old, which account for about 10% of the total.

According to the Department of Forestry, the total forest area covers about 14.74 million hectares, 31% of which is plantations, with 69% accounting for natural forests.

In 2022, Vietnam earned US $15.67 billion from forest products esports to raise this to US $18-20 billion by 2025 and US $23-25 billion by 2030.

Under land tenure reforms in the late 1980s, the Vietnamese government started allocating land to farmers previously used by state forest enterprises. With an average of 2–3 hectares per household allocated for long-term use, Vietnamese farmers have been inspired to grow trees.

The cutting cycle in these small ‘plantations’ of mostly acacia is too short (between 4 and 6 years) to produce mill-sized logs, so most are sold as woodchips.

Currently, acacia is one of the key production forest trees in Vietnam. However, reality shows that the development of the species still faces many challenges.

Additionally, acacia is fast-growing and can grow in harsher conditions where other species cannot, quickly bringing income for forest growers, especially households without long-term investment capital. Specifically, domestically planted forests can provide more than 70% of raw materials for woodworking, in which acacia plays a key role.

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A project to increase the sustainability, productivity and profitability of eucalyptus and acacia plantations will improve the livelihoods of farmers in Vietnam.

According to available figures for planted species, acacia covers an area of ​​more than 2.2 million hectares, accounting for about 62%; eucalypts cover over 330,000 hectares or 9.08%; pine covers 250,000 hectares or 6.82%; and rubber covers over 222,000 hectares or 6.02%. The remaining tree species cover nearly 665,000 hectares, accounting for 17.98%.

Meanwhile, The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has submitted a policy to encourage forest planters to borrow capital to grow large trees and is developing a plantations project for 2023-30.

According to Tran Lam Dong, deputy director of the Vietnam Academy of Forest Sciences, it will be necessary to enhance cultivating trees in areas with sustainable tree-planting certification to produce raw materials for export manufacturing.

Vietnam has two types of forest certifications, including the National Forest Certification System (VFCS) of the Office of Sustainable Forest Management Certification and FSC forest management certification from the International Forest Stewardship Council – with total forest area covering both certification schemes already reaching more than 90% of the target set in 2025.


  • Jim Bowden

    Jim Bowden, senior editor and co-publisher of Wood Central. Jim brings 50-plus years’ experience in agriculture and timber journalism. Since he founded Australian Timberman in 1977, he has been devoted to the forest industry – with a passion.


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