Forest Transition in Vietnam and Bhutan: Causes and Environmental Impacts

Forest Transition in Vietnam and Bhutan: Causes and Environmental Impacts


The authors evaluate the history of forest transition Vietnam and Bhutan.

Goals & Methods

In order to determine the change in forest cover in Vietnam, the authors collected all available land cover maps, which were then compared to official government records. Using statistical analysis, they then determined the causes of reforestation in the 1990s. For Bhutan, there was no official data analysis. The authords do provide preliminary findings using available data and literature. 

Conclusions & Takeaways

In the country as a whole, forest cover increased to 38% in 2005 from 25% in 1991. Tree plantations were mostly near road networks, places where natural reforestation was already focused in the northeastern mountains. In much of northeastern Vietnam, forest cover increased between 1992 and 2001. Many policy changes emerged in the early 1990s intended to halt deforestation and to promote economic growth. These changes, inspired by forest scarcity, included the Forest Protection and Development Law and the Land Law, the allocation of forestry land to communities, the proliferation of protected areas after signing the Convention on Biological Diversity, and tree planting programs such as the 5 million hectare reforestation program. The combination between national programs, economic growth, and market integration of forests together led to increased forest regrowth. The authors assert, however, that the benefits of forestry activities still have not materialized for local land managers.



Meyfroidt P, Lambin EF. Forest Transition in Vietnam and Bhutan: Causes and Environmental Impacts. In: Landscape Series. Landscape Series. Springer Netherlands; 2009:315–339. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-9656-3_14.


  • Department of Geography, University of Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium