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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The social dynamics of forest land policy in Vietnam: a case study of Lang Beo village Carr, Kimberly Ann


Vietnam's 1993 land law gave land-use rights to individuals to improve forest management by allowing individuals to reap the benefit of their work while managing the land within government regulations. This thesis analyses the impacts of forest land policy on livelihood security, forest protection, and gender equity, and considers the future challenges facing people in a specific village. The general research method is a case study of an ethic minority group, in a rural, primarily subsistence village, in northern Vietnam. The specific research methods included: 8 weeks of field observation, 4 participatory rural appraisal activities, 20 in-depth interviews with 8 key informants, 12 sample household interviews, and 20 semi-structured interviews. This thesis shows that privatising forest land has had a negative socio-economic impact on poor people in the village, placing their livelihood security at greater risk. This negative impact is primarily attributable to the inequity of the forest land allocation process and the outcome of the allocation, as well as vague and inconsistent policies. The land allocation policy and government afforestation programs have helped increase the amount of trees planted and reduce the amount of forest exploitation the farmer does on his/her own land; however, it has contributed to new socio-economic problems. Growing wealth disparities have created a new deforestation problem; namely that poorer households now resort to stealing forest products. This acts as a disincentive for farmers to engage in agroforestry on the barren hillsides. Furthermore, women are being left out of the forest protection planning process and are losing decision-making authority both in their households and in their village. In conclusion, the case study demonstrates that without an equitable, inclusive land allocation process to prevent further poverty, land policy can have negative socioeconomic impacts. Forest protection cannot occur when people live in poverty; they cannot invest time and money into agroforestry, nor can they afford to protect the hillside crops and forest for the long-term gain unless their immediate food needs are met.

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