The Governance Capacity of Forest Land Allocation Policy in Vietnam

Ater the country unified in 1975, the Vietnamese government centralized forest management and promoted wood-exploitation for economic development. Such a command-and-control system, however, not only came into conflicts with local people but also lacked resources for its enforcement. In consequence, during the 1970s and especially the 1980s, Vietnam’s forests were severely degraded, causing an alarming loss of timber resources and biodiversity. Facilitated by the socio-economic reforms in Vietnam from the late 1980s, since 1992 the government has allocated forest lands to individuals, households and organizations for forest rehabilitation. This policy of forest land allocation (FLA) has been expected to shift the governing of Vietnam’s forests from state control to shared responsibilities between state and non-state actors. For that reason, the questions whether the policy is capable of shifting Vietnam’s forest governance and how this capacity determines its performance are of consequence for FLA evaluation. However, current FLA literature does not provide an insight into these issues. Also, FLA evaluations were only conducted in upland provinces and little attention was paid to the influence of other land-use policies on FLA performance. Responding to these lacunae, this research project - while building upon the Policy Arrangement and the Governance Capacity approaches - takes up the challenge to evaluate FLA performance with a view to assessing FLA governance capacity in different regions of Vietnam.