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Devolution Of Forest Management:  

Devolution Of Forest Management:

Forest has always provided important material and spiritual contributions to local livelihoods in Vietnam. Yet Vietnamese forest policy has long sought to separate local people from the management of forests. The government assigned State Forest Enterprises to manage forests, excluding local people and communities from legal use of most forest resources. Recent forest policy reforms have opened up opportunities for local people to participate in forest management. Yet the reforms have not changed the basic tenant of forest management: state control over valuable forest resources. Local people have remained legally excluded from the management of valuable forest resources?though de-facto they often practised it. . Forest policy remains aloof from local practice. Part of the problem is that forest policy-making has been concentrated in the hands of central-level actors. Local governments have enjoyed little opportunity to participate in policy-making. This will change in the coming years, though. The Vietnamese government is generally committed to decentralization, which in the case of the forestry sector will result in shifting the primary responsibility for the formulation of forest policy to the provincial level. The crucial question therefore is if and how decentralization can help connect forest policy with local practice in more constructive ways. How can future policy-making integrate learning processes that feed local experiences into the formulation of provincial and national policy? How can future policy-making produce innovative methods and policies that recognize local people's close relationships with the forest, and their organizational capacity in this context? . This report documents Dak Lak's experience with a new approach to forest management that devolves significant authority to local people. In Dak Lak, local people have received long-term management rights for standing forest, a practice that goes far beyond common practices in the rest of the country. Pilot applications of the new approach produced concrete methods and policies for devolving management, including participatory land use planning, forestland allocation, community forest management regulations, and on-farm trials with agro-forestry systems. The pilots were conducted under a provincial program initiated in 1998 and received technical assistance from the Project on Sustainable Management of Resources in the Lower Mekong Basin (SMRP). . The report furthermore analyzes the institutional factors that have produced the innovative methods and policies. It demonstrates that the institutional position of the SMRP component in Dak Lak and the mode of support from central project management facilitated a unique learning process. The process involved significant expenses in the initial years of the project, above all for human resource and organizational development. Yet the initial expenses eventually paid off as the local project team developed a high organizational capacity and gained the trust of the provincial government. One of the most important key factors for success was the systematic and conscious creation of ownership of the process and activities by the local decision-makers. Organizational capacity and the provincial government's trust allowed close integration of the project's technical assistance with provincial priority programs, above all forestland allocation. The Dak Lak experience thus suggests important lessons for the institutional design of technical assistance projects with provincial governments in Vietnam. We hope that this report, which aims at both the Vietnamese officials planning and implementing development projects as well as project staff.

Published by: Sustainable Management of Resources in the Lower Mekong Basin Project -
Uploaded on: Jul 2005
File size: 658 KB - Language: English
Keyword(s): Forest Management System , Forestry , Land Tenure/Allocation , Land Use Planning , Participatory Methods , Social/Community Forestry
Category: Environment

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