Trees and agroforestry for coping with extreme weather events: experiences from northern and central Viet Nam


Although tree-based farming systems are often assumed to be “resilient” or “climate-smart” options, adoption is limited. It could be that the sensitivity of individual tree species to extreme weather events is poorly documented or new systems include unfamiliar species and technologies. This paper reports on initial results of an evaluation of farmers’ experiences with trees and crops for responding to major climatic exposures in 21 villages in northern and north-central Viet Nam. Our study assessed the suitability and roles of trees by analyzing data gathered through focus group discussions, workshops and a survey of 661 households. The results showed that a majority of households were exposed annually to what they perceived as natural hazards. Experiences with using trees for coping and adaptation depended on household income status, awareness and policies. In particular, farms with trees had shorter recovery time after most types of natural disasters, except for cold spells, demonstrating economic and environmental buffers. Many leaders were unfamiliar with agroforestry and mainly looking for economies of scale, hence oriented to land use rather than landscape planning. This indicates disconnects between farmers’ needs and policymakers’ priorities with respect to climate change adaptation strategies. Existing agroforestry systems reflected a transition from indigenous or current farming systems via changing to either new species or technologies rather than changing both at the same time. Gaps in current adaptation strategies and key areas for policy and research interventions are finally discussed.


Simelton, E.; Dam, Viet; Catacutan, D.;
Journal Details
Agroforestry Systems
Volume 89, Pages 1065-1082
Date Published: 08/2015