Bac Kan

The site

Bac Kan province is located in the centre of the Vietbac region, about 170 km to the north of Hanoi and about 200 km south of the border with China. The topography of Bac Kan province is complex with many valleys, hill and rocky mountains with average slope of 26°. The population of Bac Kan province (2009) was 295 300, with the main ethnic communities being Tay, Kinh and Dao. Agriculture and forestry were the main sources of livelihoods. Forest coverage was 56.6% compared to the country average of 39.1%. Bac Kan is one of the poorest provinces in Viet Nam (poverty rate of 36.6% compared to country average of 13.4%). It is also one of the potential candidates for the expansion of the UN-REDD program under phase 2.

The issues

The total forest area of the Nang River watershed was (96 602 ha): Na Hang (19 936 ha), Ba Be (40 158 ha), Pac Nam (17 239 ha), Ngan Son (9826 ha) and Cho Don (9442 ha). Local people were heavily dependent on forest resources.

The RUPES action research site at Ba Be covered 57 693.63 ha offorestland and 5947.78 ha ofagricultural land. Some of the management practices were unsustainable because they would potentially degrade forest and forestland in the long term. These were slash and burn agriculture, illegal logging, agriculture on slopping land and forestland, mono-cropping of maize, and cattle grazing.

Dominated by forest and agroforest upland terraces around Ba Be Lake, the Bac Kan provincial landscape provided four major environmental services: watershed functions, carbon sequestration, landscape beauty and biodiversity conservation. On the basis of lessons learnt from rewards for environmental services’ cases in Viet Nam, it seemed that the most successful schemes relevant to Bac Kan might be watershed functions and carbon sequestration. The assessment of the potential and constraints in Bac Kan was therefore focused on these two kinds of service.

Environmental services and the people involved

Environmental services

Water, carbon, landscape beauty

People who provide the services

Owners (households, communities, organizations), contracted forest protectors, Ba Be National Park

People who benefit from the services

Na Hang and Ta Lang hydropower plants

Ba Be National Park (tourist entrance fee, boat cooperatives)

Voluntary carbon market

People who act as intermediaries between the providers and the beneficiaries

RUPES, World Agroforestry Centre, 3PAD, government line agencies at central, provincial, district and commune levels

Environmental services’ providers and users in Nang and Leng river basins

  • The Nang River rises in Pac Nam district in the northwest of Bac Kan province and runs through Ba Be Lake in Ba Be district before feeding into the Na Hang hydropower dam in Tuyen Quang province. The Nang watershed includes about 38 communes in four districts of Bac Kan (Pac Nam, Ba Be, Ngan Son and Cho Don).
  • The Leng River, upstream of Ba Be Lake, flows through the Quang Khe and Dong Phuc communes. The river basin is located within Ba Be district, with two communes in the core zone (Nam Mau commune) and the buffer zone (Quang Khe commune). Within Bang Phuc commune, the Ta Lang hydropower dam will cover 38 km2 and provide 4.5 MW per hour, which is small compared with Na Hang’s 342 MW per hour .

To sum up, the environmental services’ scheme potential of Ba Be district includes 1) the water supply to Na Hang and Ta Leng hydropower plants; 2) eco-tourism businesses (by state-owned and private small-scale enterprises) surrounding Ba Be Lake, such as Ba Be National Park and homestays in Pac Ngoi and Bo Lu villages; and 3) REDD+ payments for carbon-stock sequestration through improved forest protection and management.

The rewards

The goal in Bac Kan was to achieve sustainable and equitable poverty reduction and improved livelihoods among the rural poor in Bac Kan through a framework for sustainable and profitable agroforestry development.

There were three components: 1) sustainable and equitable forestland management; 2) generating income opportunities for the rural poor; and 3) innovative environmental opportunities. Under component 3, forage-based conservation, sustainable land-use management, bio-energy development and other innovative options were to be assessed and promoted. Options for rewards for environmental services’ schemes were to be assessed through pilot projects including integrated watershed management, a CDM (energy) project and conservation funds for soil and water resources management. Pro-poor ecotourism was also to be promoted.

A model for piloting a rewards for environmental services’ scheme in the area was developed, aiming at 1) maintaining the forests’ environmental services (water supply, landscape beauty and carbon sequestration) in Nang and Ta Leng river basins; and 2) enhancing forest protection and management and aboveground carbon-stock absorption and storage, that is, REDD+. 

The mechanism for bundling environmental services for water supply, carbon sequestration and landscape beauty in Leo Keo village, Quang Khe Commune, Ba Be district, was developed using a participatory method. This was a pilot model that could be expanded to district level.


RUPES programme will hand over all publications and field-level activities to the 3PAD project and local stakeholders. To sustain the environmental services’ schemes initiated by the programme, the World Agroforestry Centre Viet Nam will continue to provide technical assistance to the 3PAD project in piloting environmental services’ schemes in the districts of Ba Be and Na Ri.


  • Bac Kan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

The Department is a technical body and under the management of the Provincial People’s Committee (PPC), which supports the PPC in implementing State management of agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, irrigation and rural development and also performs other functions in providing the public service provision system for agriculture and rural development under the mandates of the PPC and State law.

  • Bac Kan Pro-poor Partnership for Agroforestry Development (3PAD) project

3PAD is a project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The goal of the project is to reduce poverty and improve living conditions of rural poor people in Bac Kan through improving forestland management.

  • Forest Science Institute of Viet Nam

The Institute is a State special research body, supporting State management of agriculture and rural development. It is part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Its function is to implement scientific research, transfer technology, maintain international relations, train post-graduate students and provide consultancy services to the forestry sector.

  • Xuan Mai University, Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry, Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry and Ha Noi Agricultural University 

Key aims of these universities are to provide higher education programs in agriculture, forestry and related fields in agricultural and forestry science and other academic training programs; and research and transfer advanced agricultural and forestry science and practices in order to contribute to rural development in Viet Nam.

Contact for more information 

Dr Delia Catacutan (World Agroforestry Centre Viet Nam),