A World Wildlife Fund project to ensure that the rattan industry in rural areas of central Vietnam is sustainable, has made a number of achievements that were recognized at a meeting on Friday.
The "Sustainable Rattan Project" was launched by the WWF in 2009 in Vietnam's two main supplying provinces: Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam, homes of the world heritage sites Hue and Hoi An respectively.
It focuses on sustainable and environmentally friendly production and processing of rattan, and on promoting the products worldwide. The stems of rattan, a climber from the palm family, are used for food, shelter and furniture-making.
The project surveyed rattan density in 7,000 hectares of natural forest, and 2,000 hectares were placed under sustainable management protection. Forty hectares of water rattan (Daemonorops poilanei) were planted to protect and restore the resource, WWF said at the Hue meeting to review the project's first phase.
Forty villages in the provinces also formed 40 rattan interest groups to provide an efficient way to preserve and take care of rattan.
A WWF press release quoted Nguyen Van Ruoc, a group leader, as saying that "Local people have been excited. They have been receiving seedling supplies and knowledge about rattan care and plantation."
"The project also encourages us to establish contracts with trading companies to ensure maximum legal benefits for local people," Ruoc said in .
After using production methods that produce less waste and better designed products, local rattan processing companies promoted their products at international fairs, such as Life Style, Spoga and Ambiente, the release said.
Nguyen Truong Thien, director of Bamboo-Rattan Export Company Au Co, said the methods introduced in the project reduced his expenses and helped to increase his staff's salary from VND1 million per month to 2.5 million , and sometimes even 3.5 million.
Nguyen Viet Hoach, deputy head of the Agriculture and Rural Development Department in Thua Thien-Hue, said the project has improved the life of local companies and people, while protecting natural resources.
People in rural areas in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam rely heavily on the rattan trade, with sales accounting for up to 50 percent of cash income in some areas, the release said.
But most of the rattan processed in the region is taken from natural forests without an environmental mindset, which threatens an important source of income for locals, the WWF said.
WWF will continue the project until 2014, helping locals generate a stable income, especially ethnic minorities who are skilled in knitting household furniture and decorations, such as baskets and carps.
The project also will develop two craft cooperative villages in the provinces.