The Impacts of the Doi Moi (Renovation) Policies on Forest Land Management in the Northern Mountainous Region of Vietnam
In the early 1990s, the Vietnamese Government introduced “Doi Moi” (Renovation) policies to the upland regions by shifting from a subsidised central economy (socialism model) to a market economy (capitalism model), and transferred land use rights from the state to users. The government expected that by increasing local income based on forestry activities, deforestation would be stopped and forest and forest land would be managed sustainably. A research project using a case study approach in three provinces in the northern upland region explored how forest cover and quality have changed and investigated the relationships between key socio-economic indicators such as income, food security, measure of equity, land tenure and institutional issues since the early 1990s. The results show that the renovation policies have not succeeded in improving both local livelihood quality and forest land management. While the livelihood quality of most better-off villagers has improved due to agricultural and forestry activities, this has not been the case for poor people. Inequity in land use rights and lack of access to public goods have led to a widening gap between better-off and poor people. Forests have not been managed in a sustainable way. Forest cover increased significantly during the period 1990-2000, but it reduced again during the period 2000-2005 due to illegal exploitation and conversion of forest land for agricultural purpose. Governance issues, such as ineffective and weak institutions, are among the main causes leading to Doi Moi not being as successful in SFM in the uplands as expected.
The research concludes that government policies under both the old socialism model and the current capitalism model have failed in regard to sustainable forest management. An alternative model combining aspects of the old and current systems is recommended; details of such a model are presented.
Keywords: Renovation Policies, Community, Deforestation, Forest and Forest Land Management, Local Livelihood, Institution
Thi Thi Ha Tran
Senior Lecture, Head of forest inventory and planning division, Forestry Faculty