First Forest Reserves in Colonial Cochinchina

Before the advent of French colonialism in Cochinchina (1862–1954), the entire area of present-day Vietnam was covered by tropical rain forests, a habitat for one of the most diverse collection of species on Earth. When the French arrived, they cleared large chunks of land for plantations, and launched programs to manage the tropical rain forests. The forest reserves established are among the earliest known resource management measures of their kind in the world. However, by 1943, only about half the country was covered by forest. The Vietnam War and subsequent systematic destruction further reduced forested areas to about twenty percent of the country’s surface area. Today, the overuse of the forest for wood burning and the wood market pose the most prominent threat to Vietnam’s forests.

Further Readings: 
  • Biggs, David. "Managing a Rebel Landscape: Conservation, Pioneers, and the Revolutionary Past in the U Minh Forest, Vietnam." Environmental History 10 (3) (2005): 448–476. doi:10.1093/envhis/10.3.448.
  • Cleary, Mark. "Managing the Forest in Colonial Indochina c.1900–1940." Modern Asian Studies 39 (2005): 257–283. doi:10.1017/S0026749X04001623.
  • Lang, Chris. "Deforestation in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia." In Deforestation, Environment, and Sustainable Development: A Comparative Analysis, edited by D.K. Vajpeyi, 111–137. Westport: Praeger, 2001. Also available here