In the Southeast Asian region, loss of area under natural forests is largely driven by natural resources extraction and demand for more land for production of food and other commodities. Earlier in 2018, progress tracking of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals for Southeast Asia revealed disappointing outcomes for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15. SDG 15 measures forests and forested land protection, restoration and sustainable use.
In spite of the regional trend, however, Vietnam has experienced a resurgence in forest cover over the past few decades, reaching 48 percent as of 2017. Vietnam hit its lowest coverage in 1990 at 27 percent due to the conversion of forested land into farms as well as leftover reactions to bombs and defoliants during the Vietnam War. The improvement has been attributed to the government of Vietnam’s move to restrict timber harvesting and processing for export, reforestation activities and natural regeneration.