Although an increase in forest growth in Vietnam has occurred, there has been an evident degradation to the quality of these forest areas. This has been the result of various factors including hydropower plants, irrigation systems, mining and transportation projects. The main concern for Vietnamese forests however, is the issue of illegal logging. As the demand for legal timber is on the rise with nations such as the US, Japan and the EU region all requesting evidence of legality for timber exported from Vietnam, it is imperative that efforts to prevent illegal logging and promote sustainable forest develop be increased.
Within the first 6 months of 2015 there have been 211 cases of illegal logging, transportation and stocking of illegal timber. Forest rangers and officials have found it difficult to charge perpetrators due to large forest areas, distances from residential areas, the restricted authority that rangers possess and the common practice of groups of perpetrators working together to warn others of approaching rangers. Many offenders of illegal logging are also local people who have a limited understanding of current regulations and may not comprehend the legal situation.
Since 2010 Vietnam and the EU have been negotiating to create the VPA and implement FLEGT, which is expected to be signed this year. This will require all timber exporters to prove the legality and origins of timber entering the EU. Many civil society organizations and NGOs are implementing programs to deal with the issue of illegal logging including the VCCI and CED who are working to ensure local businesses understand regulations surrounding the timber trade. These groups also contribute to the empowerment of local communities to enforce forestry laws and promote forest governance.