Solutions to support communities in utilizing rights and responsibilities in natural forest management in Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam

With a goal to enhance ethnic people’s awareness and capacity for utilizing rights and responsibilities in community forest management and supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS), C&E in association with Forestry Science and Technology Association in Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam Forestry Protection Department implemented “Sustainable management of natural forest through improving awareness and building capacity to improve the rights and legal status of ethnic minority communities to natural forest in central Vietnam (2012-2014)” Project.


After a year of implementation (2012), the project gained some initial outcomes. C&E and the local partners organized the workshop “Solutions to support communities in utilizing rights and responsibilities in natural forests management in Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam” to share and exchange research outcomes and experience in enhancing ethnic minority communities’ awareness and capacity for utilizing their rights and legal status in managing natural forests with commune, district and provincial authorities and local stakeholders.


The workshop had 50 participants, including representatives of local departments and offices in two provinces, i.e. the Communist Party, People’s Committee, People’s Council, National Assembly Delegation, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Forestry Department, Forest Protection Division, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Agriculture and Forestry Extension Centers and People’s Committee in districts and communes and the community. Many other organizations and centers, including CORENAM, CSRD, WWF, Phong Điền Nature Reserve, Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry, Forestry Science and Technology Association in Thua Thien Hue and Forestry Clubs also joined the workshop. Besides, reporters from local newspapers and televisions including TRT Hue and Thua Thien Hue Newspaper attended and reported this event. The workshop specially welcomed Mr. Nguyen Van Tung, Project Officer from RLS Office in Vietnam.


During the workshop, the two project partners presented the outcomes of capacity building for utilizing rights and responsibilities and promotion of models for environmental friendly use of forests, initial impacts on local people, authorities and stakeholders and resulted changes in their behaviours, capacity and awareness. Speeches of local authority representatives provided an evaluation of related state offices’ assistance to ethnic minority communities in exercising rights and obligations as they received natural forests from the state in Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam. Finally, C&E leaders summarised the 2012 project’s activities, the research outcomes and lessons learnt from training activities, evaluated how successful these activities were in the two provinces and proposed a plan and cooperation with the partners in 2013.


Following discussions focused on existing drawbacks of the government’s policies on the allocation of natural forests to communities and communities’ challenges and difficulties in managing, protecting and developing their allocated forest resources. According to Mr. Nguyễn Trọng, Head of Forestry Department in Thua Thien Hue, the approach based on the rights of people participating in natural forest management is an enormous challenge but C&E has been succeeded in the first stage. The project’s activities have positive impacts, changing people’s awareness and behaviours and letting them exercise their rights and responsibilities in managing natural forests. There are, however, some issues that need to be solved around policies on supporting communities after they become in charge of protecting natural forests.


The workshop participants unanimously agreed and highly appreciated the outcomes of the project’s activities. Mr. Đỗ Xuân Cẩm, Vice President of Thua Thien Hue Forestry Club, stated, “I am most impressed by the change in local people’s consciousness after the training course, from passively waiting to actively seeking, from not know to know, from passive to active… I think that this is a huge success of the project. Although the project implemented some training and capacity-building activities but not livelihood investment and support activities, it helped to eliminate drawbacks, inadequacies and shortcomings in natural forest allocation to communities which was demonstrated clearly through experience in community forest management at Phu Mau Agriculture and Forestry Extension Club.”


It was suggested that a cooperation and experience and information sharing mechanism with C&E to be established for activities to support communities in utilizing rights and legal status in their allocated natural forests management. Associate Professor, Dr. Đặng Thái Dương, Dean of Department of Forestry in Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry said, “Department of Forestry is currently working on projects related to the land and forest allocation in Thua Thien Hue, including the Ministerial Major Project on Policies on Forest Allocation to the Community and a doctoral research project on decentralisation of authorities over the forest allocation to the community. C&E and the department can share information and hands-on experience in activities and models as well as cooperate to develop projects in the coming years.”


The workshop participants agreed to propose some feasible and appropriate recommendations and solutions in order to further enhance awareness and capacity for utilizing rights and legal status for people who were managing and protecting community forest in local areas as well as participation of relevant stakeholders to assist and promote the process. “C&E has organized training courses to raise people’s awareness and capacity and has gained fruitful achievements so far. However, due to limited knowledge, Quang Nam ethnic communities are not clear about the Government’s regulations and policies on forest management and protection, especially their rights and responsibilities in managing allocated natural forests. Therefore, frequent refresher training on these contents is necessary for them till they understand completely,” said Mr. Nguyễn Văn Tình from Quang Nam Forestry Protection Department. Solutions and recommendations of the workshop will be sent to relevant stakeholders at different levels and will be used as inputs to the project’s activities in 2013. 

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