Customary Law in Forest Resources Use and Management – A Case Study among the Dzao and Thai People in North-West Vietnam
Christian Erni
IWGIA, AIPP and CIRUM, April 2012 | ISBN: 978-87-92786-13-5

Since the early 1990s, Vietnam has attempted to address deforestation by decentralizing forest management. Under the forest land allocation programme, long-term use rights over forest land are provided to individual households and communities. One of the key challenges is how customary land rights and institutions can be formally recognized under statutory law. Vietnam’s forest law recognizes local forest users as rights holders and customary practices and culture as the basis for assigning forests to these people. However, while the programme has been successful in improving forest conservation, its benefits have been unevenly distributed. Especially in mountainous areas, where the majority of ethnic minorities live, implementation has been slow and many communities remain without secure tenure rights. This study documents customary law applied in forest resource use and management among Thai and Dzao communities and concludes with a set of recommendations which can contribute to an improvement of forest related laws and policies. The findings and recommendations are particularly relevant in light of the fact that Vietnam is currently preparing for REDD, including related safeguards such as the respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, and their full and effective participation. Read the report …