Forest Land Rights

Dong Thang II commune, Dinh Lap district, Lang Son province

  • Dong Thang is a mountainous commune in Dinh Lap District in Lang Son Province. CIRUM entered Dong Thang in 2009 and is since then cooperating with local people and authorities in a broader program towards securing community rights and sustainable use and management of forests.

    Thanks to the support of McKnight Foundation, CIRUM, started a sub-project in Dong Thang called ‘Customary and community based natural forest use and management through traditional herbal healers (CBO), for the benefit of people in Dong Thang commune in Northern Vietnam‘. It runs from January, 2012 to December, 2013.

    The problem this sub-project particularly addresses is that Dong Thang is facing depletion of forest resources in general and herbal sources in particular. There are various reasons underlying to this. A most fundamental one is local people’s insecure forest tenure which is a result of inadequate implementation of Forest Land Allocation Program (FLAP) in 2008. This is for instance reflected in the unequal forest allocation, which is skewed towards local elites, lack of local people‘s rights to manage, access and use forest resources, poor management and protection of forest resources. Moreover, 1/3 of valuable forest land is captured by Thinh Loc Company for acacia plantation and pine resin extraction. Besides, trading of herbal plants (predominantly by Chinese middlemen) and illegal logging pose big threats to forests. Also a threat is the loss of local people’s customary structures and indigenous knowledge.

    Our project in Dong Thang aims to ensure good community forest development and reviving of indigenous knowledge on the use of herbal medicines plants of local herbal healers. Activities include applied research on customary law in herbal medicines use and management and initiatives to exchange and document indigenous knowledge. In addition, ito preserve herbal medicine practices, a community-based model to protect natural forests with sustainable use of medicinal herbs plants is being established. Another set of project activities relate to herbal healers organizations and networking with other regions, to strengthen advocacy for ethnic minority people’s forest rights to use and manage forest sustainably.

    Through these activities we aim to promote forest protection through raising awareness and knowledge on herbal sources and their sustainable use.  More importantly, our long term objective is to share experiences from this model with other healer’s, CBO’s and relevant authorities, so that these lessons and good practices can be replicated in other localities.

    In conclusion, CIRUM expects that activities within the network will provide necessary conditions for herbal healer CBO’s across Northern Regions to advocate for local people’s rights to access, manage and use forests sustainably.

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