Forest Tenure Reform in Vietnam: Case Studies from the Northern Upland and Central Highlands Regions

August 2008

Authors: Nguyen Quang Tan, William D. Sunderlin

Publishers: RECOFTC and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI)

August 2008

How did Vietnam's forest tenure reforms impact local communities? The experiences of two provinces show that traditional forest management has endured despite decades of state control.


This study of Hoa Binh and Dak Lak provinces in Vietnam seeks to shed light on three issues surrounding forest tenure reform in Vietnam:
1. The current situation in the two study provinces: Who owns what forest and how much?
2. Forest tenure arrangements in the study sites: What happened when the reform took effect?
3. Variations between study sites: How did the forest tenure policy affect the different provinces?

In general, findings indicate that local communities possess important abilities to manage forests. Traditional forest management systems still endure after more than two decades of state forest management. With timely support from outside, local communities can protect allocated forests from unauthorized use and benefit from forest management.


  • Make forest land allocation and the devolution of forest rights more meaningful
  • Make forest allocation more pro-poor through: allocation of better quality forests to local people, more equitable distribution of forest resources among local people, transparency in all planning and decision-making processes, and capacity building and extension supports which target the poor
  • Evaluate (and remedy) tenure reform nationwide to draw out lessons to be learned or practices to be avoided
  • Involve local people in combating illegal logging activities
  • Respect local customs: state policies and local state officials should respect and account for local variations of customs and culture
  • Provide legal education to local people
  • Pay (more) attention to the design of a policy implementation program prior to putting policy into practice


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