Victory for communities in drafting of Vietnam’s new forestry law

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Victory for communities in drafting of Vietnam’s new forestry law


06 July 2017

Communities may soon be recognised as legal entities in draft Vietnamese forestry laws, after a series of recommendations by a forest land coalition were accepted as being key to the legal process.

Forland, the Viet Nam-based coalition, made several recommendations to the Vietnamese government after a six months consultation process with key stakeholders in the legal drafting process.

The MRLG Innovation Fund (IF) project, entitled “Cooperation in providing information, critique and appraisal of the draft Vietnamese forestry law”, ran from November 2016 to April 2017, and involved the Viet Nam Administration of Forests (VNFOREST, drafting the law), the Science – Technology and Environment Committee of the National Assembly (STEC, verifying the draft law), and the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA, critiquing the draft law).

Throughout the process, Forland – whose members include MRLG, Oxfam, and RECOFTC – acted as both a liaison between stakeholders and an independent unit to advocate the new law.

Since 2004, legal reform in this area has already created some positive outcomes, such as increases in forest area, involvement of economic stakeholders in forest development, policies on effective forest land use and stabilisation of mountainous social and economic aspects.

But the laws also contain loopholes that result in constraints in their implementation.

These low quality forestry planning, illegal encroachment and forest use changes, ineffective business of production forest, and ineffective forest management of state-owned farms.

These issues have become ever more urgent with the increasing impacts of climate change, population growth, and increasing demand for timber for domestic and overseas use.

During the course of the project, Forland conducted case studies in two provinces, including recommendations from local authorities and grassroots organisations.

As a result of these studies, as well as six months of consultations and discussions, 11 out of Forland’s 19 recommendations to the Vietnamese government have now been accepted into the draft forestry law.

These include:

  •    Recognition of communities as a forest owners
  •    Removal on the article on contract-based assignment on forest protection from state-owned agro-forestry farms
  •    Addition of the principle of securing the participation of organizations, households, individuals and community in forest planning with information disclosure and transparency
  •    Replacement of the term “village population community” by the term “population community” to extend the definition.

Forland has also recommended the recognition of forest tenure rights, customary rights, and ownership rights to natural production forest restored by forest owners, as well as the classification of two types of forest, and the rights of community, which have not yet been accepted by the drafting committee.

Throughout the project’s implementation, Forland has created a network of reform actors actively participating in advocacy, including forestry experts, researchers, social activists, NGOs, media and active policy makers, contributing their voices and influence to the drafting process.

Forland wrapped up the project’s inception phase in April, and is now into its second phase, which is expected to last until the new law is adopted at the end of 2017.