Collective action to protect upland forests in Vietnam: A community-led approach to forest protection

Vietnam’s last remaining intact natural forests in the upland areas bordering Cambodia, Laos and China are under threat from illegal logging and illegal timber trade. These areas are home to local communities, including marginalised ethnic groups, who have few incentives to manage forests sustainably. This policy brief outlines a pilot intervention that explores an innovative way to implement a policy of forest land allocation and forest allocation in upland regions in Vietnam to achieve sustainable forest management and poverty alleviation outcomes.

Key messages

  • The Centre of Research and Development in Upland Areas (CERDA) and the EU REDD Facility conducted a pilot intervention to demonstrate how a collective action approach to forest protection could overcome challenges associated with forest land allocation and forest allocation in upland regions in Vietnam.
  • The pilot project in Thai Nguyen Province has supported upland communities to form self-governing groups and cooperatives to manage the forests that underpin their livelihoods and traditions. By forming self-governing groups, communities can legally claim long-term forest-use rights.
  • The pilot intervention has supported a low-cost forest allocation process by training and supporting community members to conduct administrative activities, measures to secure free, prior and informed consent, consultations, grievance procedures, participatory land-use planning for low-emissions development and community-based forest and carbon monitoring.
  • Incentives have been created for communities to engage in forest protection efforts including a revolving fund for microcredit tied to performance and creating greater social capital through the cooperative governance structures.
  • Community-led forest governance can achieve reliable, cost effective and participative forest protection, although significant capacity building and external support is required to ensure the sustainability of cooperative governance structures.