Financial analysis and comparison of smallholder forest and state forest enterprise plantations in Central Vietnam
State forest enterprises (SFEs) in Vietnam for decades were the main source of industrial wood production, but smallholder forest plantations have become common. Smallholders need positive financial returns to be viable. Likewise, financial returns are an important consideration of proposals to turn SFEs into joint ventures, because the potentially involved private companies would seek reasonable returns on investment. Financial analyses of smallholder and SFE forest plantations were undertaken to evaluate their competitiveness and profitability, and to assess opportunities and challenges for the sector. It was found that forest plantations in Vietnam, under current market conditions, can be profitable. Smallholders who received technical assistance and financial support could generate average land expectation values (LEVs) of about US$ 5 100/ha at 8% discount rate. Even without financial support, and assuming smallholders pay for the cost of technical assistance, average LEVs were about US$ 4 600/ha. Smallholders participating in a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification pilot had higher LEVs, assuming price premiums for certified wood. Positive LEVs were robust to lower wood price and higher discount rates. SFEs, on the other hand, had poorer returns because of lower growth and yield of wood, which may be due to differences in sites and management. Vietnamese woodproducers are competitive internationally, and have opportunities to tap domestic and international markets.