Our stories ... ...
Viet Nam - 04 September, 2018
Viet Nam’s forest cover was being lost quickly in the mid 20th century. Today, however, thanks to forest sector reforms that started in the mid-1990s, natural forests cover 40% of the country’s territory. In spite of this achievement, forest encroachment is once again on the rise. Large tracts of forestland are converted to monoculture plantations or destroyed to make way for infrastructure development. Communities that depend on forest resources find it more and more difficult to make ends meet.
Alarmed by these developments, the Vietnamese national assembly asked the government to revise the Forest Protection and Development Law of 2004. The Viet Nam Administration of Forests set up a law preparation board, which started collecting ideas and information from individuals and organisations at all levels.
Tropenbos Viet Nam seized this opportunity to support and inform the law revision process. As part of FORLAND, a coalition of nine civil society organisations working in the forest sector, TBI consulted experts in natural resource management and law and policy-making, conducted studies and carried out field surveys among forest communities in three provinces. TBI also organised field trips for policy makers, giving them a chance to listen firsthand to the difficulties people endure due to their limited forest tenure rights.
The information and evidence was shared through strategic lobbying and at a multi-stakeholder dialogue meeting with government and national assembly representatives and individuals from all organisations concerned with Viet Nam’s forests.
The efforts of the coalition were amply rewarded. In November 2017, the national assembly approved the new forest law, which included the coalition’s most important policy recommendations. First and foremost, local communities are now recognised as legal forest owners. This means that they will be granted forest and forestland tenure rights, which is vital for improving their livelihoods. Second, the law recognises the cultural practices and values of indigenous communities and grants communities the responsibility to manage sacred forests within the areas where they are located. Finally, forest governance is strengthened; the new law provides for transparent policy-making and planning procedures nationwide that include the voices and interests of forest communities.
Published in the Annual Report 2017