Failure of Community Forest Based Management in Vietnam
Prior the early 1990s, top down model of forest management with dominant control of government over the forest had been applied in developing countries (Tole 2010, p.1312). As the paradigm resulted in negative economic and environmental outcomes, it has replaced by decentralisation with different levels including community based forest management (CBFM). In theory, CBFM can strengthen democratisation of forest management by empowering local communities in exploiting and controlling the natural resource. It also contributes to equal benefit distribution and provides new and higher incomes for local people (Nygren 2005). However, being applied in Vietnam, CBFM has demonstrated poor performance with three emerging problems of no or little improvement of local livelihoods leading an increase of illegal logging, degraded forest and ecosystem, and conflict between local people and national and local authorities. Recognising the above challenges of CBFM, the paper aims to find out why the management model fails in Vietnam by using the theory of sustainable governance of common-pool resources (CPRs) and political economy to analyse how institutional arrangement and relationship of powerful actors containing local and central governments and state forest enterprises affect the formulation and implementation of CBFM. This paper commences with an overview of CBFM model, reason for application of CBFM in Vietnam, and introduction of the theoretical framework. The next part analyses the causes of CBFM failure in Vietnam on the aspect of institutional arrangement and political economy. The last section proposes some possible solutions to address the emerging issues of CBFM for improving its policy development and implementation. Literature Review
Overview of Community Based Forest Management
Community based forest management is a paradigm in which the exploitation and management of forest land is shifted from state control to local community (Skutsch & Ba 2010). To empower local people, the State Forest Department, which represents national authority, allocates particular amount of forest land areas to local people and provides them with the entitlements to land and of harvesting timber, collecting forest and non-forest products. In return, the state assigns communities to expand forest cover by afforestation and to protect forest for preventing firebreak or illegal logging. Ideally, the application of CBFM targets two objectives: (i) improving livelihoods and social welfare of local people and (ii) gaining forest sustainability by active engagement and collaboration of communities (Pagdee, et al. 2006). Why CBFM in Vietnam
Before the 1990s, the forest was under the control and entitlement of the government of Vietnam. Under centralised bureaucratic regime, the government only focused on exploitation of forest to maximise profits for economic development and ignored the aspect of environmental management for sustainability. Consequently, forest was grievously degraded and the forest cover sharply declined from 45 percent to 30 percent (Boissiere et al. 2009). Fully being aware of severe outcomes caused by the inappropriate management mechanism, the government started to shift to CBFM model by formulating the new legal framework of forest management including 2003 Land Law (2013 amendment), 2004 Law of Forest Protection and Development, and many other legal documents under the Laws. The new regulations stipulate forest utilisation and preservation as well as rights and responsibilities of communities to forest. The innovative policies focused on the transferring power of forest control from state to communities and emphasised the significant role of local engagement in forest management. Under the new legitimate forest framework, several remarkable CBFM programs including the Forest Rehabilitation Program and the Five Million Hectare Forestation Program (5MHRP)...
References: Boissier, M, Sheil, D, Basuki, I, Wan, M & Le, H 2009, ‘Can engaging local people’s interests reduce forest degradation in Central Vietnam?’, Biodiversity Conservation, vol. 18, pp. 2743-2757.
Reed, S 2008, ‘Stakeholder participation for environmental management: A literature review’, Biological Conservation, vol. 141, pp. 2417-2431.
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