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From May 22-28, 2017, Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop, the Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) participated in a study tour to the US for learning and exchange on Integrated Land Use Planning. The trip was organized and sponsored by the US Forest Service/International Programs in collaborating with US Agency for International Development Mission in Vietnam (USAID/Vietnam) in order to contribute to the work of assisting Vietnam's transition to climate-smart, low-emission, and resilient development that protects people, landscapes, and biodiversity in Vietnam's priority forested provinces. SRD was the only Vietnamese NGO joining with 01 representative from another international research center (World Agroforestry Center - ICRAF) and 06 other senior delegates from Vietnamese government of Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam provinces. These provinces in the Central region of Vietnam have received funding and technical assistance for the ongoing Green Annamites project supported by USAID with a number of activities implemented there for the objectives of protecting forests, enhancing biodiversity conservation, and strengthening communities' resilience.

A wide range of exchange visits were taken place within 07 days in the US. In Portland, Oregon, the delegation had an opportunity to visit and work with field experts from US Forest Service's Regional Office in Portland, and visited the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. There, all members together discussed land management planning and community engagement and applications of ecosystem services to participatory planning in the Pacific Northwest, as well as how to promote community involvement in defining nature's benefits for land management planning. In Tucson, Arizona, the delegation joined in a session of discussion about the principles of forest plan in action, erosion prevention & native locally sourced plants. Many other important contents were well-presented and shared among all participants, including: the USFS approach to forest inventory, especially related to data collection and using data for forest management decisions; collaborative forest restoration work in national forests; and, payment for Ecosystem services approaches to forest management, etc.

"I am really impressed by the development and protection for national forests under the supporting programs carried out by USFS. The biodiversity there has been protected and developed in scientific and sustainable ways; and a number of models are practical and suitable for SRD to apply into current and future's projects in the Central provinces of Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam and many other forested areas in Vietnam as well", shared Mrs Vu Thi Bich Hop.

"The study tour was a wonderful opportunity to spend a week with representatives from both Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam Provinces, in addition to NGOs the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD), learning from the different challenges and experiences of land management in Oregon and Arizona, and thinking through how to approach some of the challenges in the Vietnam context. Although the ecosystems are very different, we heard very clearly that partnerships and collaboration are necessary components of any successful natural resource management project. The U.S. Forest Service International Programs looks forward to fruitful collaboration in these two provinces in the Green Annamites project", said Mrs Sarah Banks, Office of the Chief, International Programs, USFS.

After the study tour, SRD plans to share the lesson-learnt and experience with several CSO's networks, including the two key networks that SRD has been leading as the Chair, namely VNGO-FLEGT Network with over 50 organizational members, and VNGO & Climate Change Network with over 130 CSO members across Vietnam. More importantly, knowledge and approaches from the trip will be translated and applied into relating projects in the real context for more effective implementation and management.

Also in early of May (5-8/5) in Tokyo, Japan, Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop, being the senior member of General Council of Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN), joined in a series of important activities, such as: APRN Board of Conveners' Meeting, APRN Biennial Conference 2017, APRN General Council Meeting, and so on.

The active engagements of SRD in regional and global events have enabled the organization to acquire valuable experience in diverse development spheres, network with international partners, and share the concerns in the globalization context. More importantly, they are good opportunities for SRD to bring the issues from Vietnam to key forums, aiming to exchange information, advocate and mobilize resources for SRD's sustainable objectives.

Photos credit: USFS and APRN.

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Group photo in front of USFS office, USA

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Sharing and learning about watershed management in Portland

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Sharing and learning about Co-management and working with local communities of USFS

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Sharing and learning about Co-management and working with local communities of USFS

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Visit the Co-management, planning and usage of land at Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

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Sharing and learning about the model of forest restoration at Ashland

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The APRN Biennial Conference 2017 in Tokyo, Japan

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Mrs. Vu Thi Bich Hop actively participated in several key activities of The APRN Biennial Conference 2017 in Tokyo, Japan

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