April, 19 2014 09:48:04

People's needs should guide forest allocation

Farmers tend to saplings at a nursery for forest trees in Hoa Thuong Commune, Thai Nguyen Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyet

HA NOI (VNS)— The people and community should be given priority in the forest allocating policy to help ensure social welfare, reduce poverty, and improve the efficiency of land use and forest protection.

This was jointly agreed by participants at a recent conference on the role of forest allocation in restructuring the forestry sector, which was held in Ha Noi recently by Tropenbos International Vietnam, Forest Trends and Sustainable Forest Management Institute.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Viet Nam has 15.4 million hectares of forestry land, of which 12.1 million hectares or 79 per cent have been allocated to land users including companies, households, and state agencies.

The policy of allocating forest land to households living in the areas has been launched for over a decade, improving the livelihoods of local residents, and protecting the ecosystem.

However, Viet Nam currently has more than 76,000 hectares of disputed forest land between the State Forest Enterprises (SFEs) and the people, and between the people themselves, the officials stated, thereby affecting socio-economic development and the society as a whole.

Dr To Xuan Phuc, an expert from Forest Trends, an international non-profit organisation promoting sustainable forest management, claimed that one of the key reasons was the people's lack of access to production land and concurrently, some SFEs were not able to generate effective economic use of forest land due to a shortage of human resources coupled with poor means of production, among several other factors.

The participants also raised concerns that in some localities, the authorities allocated forest land belonging to SFEs to private companies instead of using them for poverty reduction efforts.

Nguyen Van Tien, the head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Areas of the Party Central Committee's Economic Commission, remarked that the management of forests should be reformed and transferred from the state to households and communities living around the forests.

He pointed out that the management capacity of the beneficiaries, forest conditions, infrastructure, and the state investment policies must be meticulously evaluated.

Moreover, there are rising concerns over the issue of some local governments being rather slow to allocate land to the people for production. Currently, there are about 3.2 million hectares of unallocated forest land under the management of People's Committees of communes.

The forestry restructuring scheme targets that the state agencies manage 50 per cent of forests nationwide instead of the current 60 per cent. — VNS

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