Nguyễn Thị Hồng Lý, Department of Forest Development, VNFOREST
Since early 1991, Viet Nam has made efforts to introduce non-state enterprises to engage in forest management and innovations for securing benefits from national forests. In 1999, the Vietnam Government issued Decree No. 163/1999/ND-CP, which provided guidance for the allocation and leasing of forest lands to organizations, households, and individuals for the purpose of forest management. A number of projects experimented with different approaches to community-based forest management, but there was no legal basis to legitimize such approaches until promulgation of the Land Law in 2003, and the Forest Protection and Development Law in December 2004. These two laws have identified rural communities as key forces in the management, protection, and utilization of natural production forests and the less critical protection forests. Thus, there is an established legal basis that legitimizes Community-based Forest Management (CFM) in Viet Nam.
The Vietnam Forest Development Strategy for the period 2006-2010 identifies “Piloting and developing CFM” as priority 5 in the list of 21 priorities to the forest sector for the period 2006 - 2020. It indicates that natural production forest, plantation forests, and small and fragmented protection forests (which are historically attached to communities) can be allocated to villages. Program 5 of the Strategy also set the target to have 2.5 million hectares to be managed by local communities by 2010, and 4 million hectares managed by 2020.
Since 2006, the Trust Fund for Forests (TFF) has supported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) the pilot community forestry management project called "community forestry management program, the pilot phase in 2006-2009 ". The results of this phase of the project has established a foundation for the management of community forestry in Viet Nam, including the provision of practical preliminary guidance on community-based forest management, supported by a legal framework for land use planning, forest land allocation, benefit-sharing agreements, forest management and financial management.
In order to consolidate the results of the Phase I and institutionalize community-based forest management policy in Viet Nam, the project "Strengthening community-based forestry in Viet Nam" was developed as the second phase of the pilot project. The project continue to be implemented in 59 communities (in 35 communes) in 9 provinces, the duration is from May 2012 to December 2013.
Overall objective: To promote the active participation of local communities in Viet Nam in the equitable and ecologically sustainable management of natural forests, thus contributing to increase income and reduce poverty for forest-dependent communities.
1. To review and evaluate models of community forest projects that have been operating in Viet Nam for documentation, dissemination and replication purposes.
2. To strengthen the effectiveness of activities and successful models of Project Phase 1 in an effort to attain higher levels of social equity and sustainability.
3. To finalize and institutionalize several legal documents to support community forest management initiatives in Viet Nam, which will include CFM Technical Guidelines, a MARD Decision on CFM implementation, and draft Decree prescriptions.
4. To raise awareness on CFM, and enhance knowledge, and capacities of different stakeholders in PFES, REDD, FLEGT, and community-forests related items such as CFM, and social equities.
5. To develop a knowledge management system on community forestry that will serve domestic and overseas individuals and organizations working in the field or conducting research and training, including its practical application by forestry officials and practitioners.
To match the specific objectives, the project will provide 5 outputs as follows:
Ø Output 1: CFM implementation is reviewed and experiences gained are shared
Ø Output 2: Allocated community forestlands are managed sustainably, on the basis of effective project prescriptions to attain desired forest management objectives, social equities, and economic returns.
Ø Output 3: CFM technical guidelines are reviewed, and CFM-related legal documents are produced for nation-wide application, on the basis of assessments, appraisals, and document draftings by the project.
Ø Output 4: The enabling legal environment for CFM adoption and expansion in Viet Nam intensifies through the awareness created by disseminating project information and its work entailing CFM opportunities and social equities.
Ø Output 5: Launched community-based forestry knowledge management database (CFM Knowledge Database), circulating, or ready to disseminate CFM-related information through the forestry sector portal and associated media.
The outputs of the project will provide the basis for the management of community forestry in Viet Nam from the development of a legal framework, technical guidance, to enhanced alternatives to contribute to forestry management in a sustainable way. At the same time, the project will contribute to the implementation of one of the important tasks of the forest sector in the future which have been identified in the Forest Protection and Development Plan (2011-2020) - allocating over 2 million hectares of forest land managed by the Commune People’s Committees to local communities and households to manage in long-term for sustainable use. By doing so, the issues of social justice, benefit sharing, equality, etc,. can be addressed with the objectives of poverty reduction and economic difficulties solving for people living at the edge of the forest.