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Acacia plantations in Vietnam: research and knowledge application to secure a sustainable future

Nambiar, EK Sadanandan, Harwood, Christopher E, Kien, Nguyen Duc
Southern forests 2015 v.77 no.1 pp. 1-10
Acacia, climate, disease resistance, exports, forests, genotype, growers, income, monitoring, plantations, rural economics, soil, stand management, tree breeding, tree diseases, wood, Vietnam
Vietnam has established 1.1 million ha of acacia plantations for wood production, managed on 5- to 10-year rotation cycles. Nearly 50% of the resource is managed by small growers holding 1–5 ha woodlots. Acacia plantations have emerged as an important resource for supporting the rural economy and national export revenue. Given the range of climate, terrain, soils, management inputs and skills, plantation productivity varies from 10 to 25 m ³ ha ⁻¹ y ⁻¹. Future growth of this sector will depend on improving and sustaining production from the current land base, much of which is already in its second or third rotation. Although studies on sustainable production are limited, available information suggests good prospects for increasing production and improving soils. Breeding has produced genotypes with potential for increasing growth, but this has not generally been matched by sustainable soil and stand management practices. Several current practices warrant immediate change, based on sustainability principles. Internationally, research has established the need for conserving site resources and other judicious management practices. Vietnam should adopt these principles and develop locally appropriate practices to implement them. Greater efforts are required on surveillance of major diseases and tree breeding to improve disease resistance. Because acacia plantations deliver high economic benefits and there are opportunities for improving productivity, an R&D strategy focused on underpinning sustainable management and application would serve the nation well. Key elements include commitments to adaptive research for achieving impacts, effective partnerships between public and private organisations, fostering an integrated approach to management, and special attention to the needs of smallholder growers.