Justice in the forests: Vietnam
Local people need legal rights to forests shows how benefits have started to accrue to communities in Vietnam when they were given commercial rights to use forests – and how this provides an incentive for sustainable forest management.
Although many communities in Vietnam have managed their forests for centuries, it is only recently that the government has recognised the legal status of community forest management.
This film compares the case of one village that has received legal title to one that has not. Thon Bon is one of the few villages to have been given legal title under the government’s pilot scheme while Pho Trach, which also relies heavily on the forest for its wellbeing, has been managing it successfully for centuries without legal title.
The co-operative has done a good job of looking after the forest yet the village has not yet been issued legal recognition to its rights to the forest. Instead, they must rely on the co-operative system to manage their natural resources and can fall victim to outside exploitation without compensation.
In the current context of global schemes to fight greenhouse gas emissions, these legal titles provide a real opportunity for Vietnam, provided they can be made to work at the community level.
Gaining security and rights will not only ensure the health and well being of the forests themselves, but also for the people who have cared for them for generations and hope to continue doing so far into the future.