This article presents major research findings from four villages in Thua Thien Province, Vietnam. It analyzes whether FLA policies have been able to integrate conservation and poverty reduction among rural communities.
Viet Nam’s forest land allocation (FLA) program has been decentralizing forest governance on an ongoing basis since the 1990s, aiming to give equal focus to rural livelihoods and sustainable forest management. Forest lands are allocated to public and private socio-economic institutions, mainly to local level stakeholders such as individuals, households, and communities. Analyzing this policy development and implementation provides essential insight into the success or failure of such decentralization programs.
This study aims to analyze the impacts of the forest land allocation on pro-poor sustainable forest management and livelihood development in the Central Region and Viet Nam as a whole.
This project is being developed through a PhD research by Tran Nam Tu. Tu’s research has demonstrated that while FLA policy has been very effective in conserving Bach Ma’s forests, key issues are preventing equitable decentralization policy. First, a tendency towards top-down policy-making has bypassed thorough evaluation of local livelihood patterns and boundaries. This has not only reduced the potential for economic development but also produced confusion and conflict over stewardship boundaries. Second, FLA policy has empowered certain ethnic groups over others, creating further economic and decision-making inequalities. In Bach Ma, “Vietnamese” Kinh people have typically been granted more valuable, individually-managed production forest while their neighbors, the “indigenous” Co Tu people, are granted degraded forest to be communally-managed. Tu argues that legal devolution of forest ownership to households and communities must be accompanied by increased decision-making power, which remains elusive.