The Recognition of Customary Tenure in Vietnam
This thematic study explores the possibilities for strengthening the recognition of customary tenure in Vietnam. It begins with an overview of customary tenure in Vietnam, particularly in upland forest areas where customary systems still prevail. In upland areas, forest land allocation policies have been underway since the 1990s to claim back forest land from unproductive state-owned forest enterprises (SFEs) for redistribution to local forest users.
The study then turns to examine the recognition given to customary tenure in Vietnamese law, including for forest land and shifting cultivation areas, and highlights some of the challenges faced by ethnic minorities and local communities in getting customary land and forest tenure rights recognized. Key changes underway in customary systems are explored and their implications for ethnic minorities and women. This is followed by a discussion of land conflicts and possibilities for strengthening resolution processes.
The final section examines key opportunities for increasing customary tenure recognition and presents some recommendations to that end, including the revision of the Forestry Law and engagement in the forestry reform process to ensure that land reclaimed from SFEs is allocated to customary users.
The study is based on a review of relevant literature and interviews held with representatives from government agencies, donors, civil society organizations and individuals with relevant expertise in Vietnam.
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