IUCN Researches Policies to Promote Sustainable Forest Livelihoods

IUCN-supported researchers discussed ways to identify policy solutions to forest management and market access challenges facing poor, rural communities dwelling in and around Bac Kan province’s forested areas at an April 23 workshop.

New policies could help local vendors reap more sustainable benefits from the forest Photo: IUCN

The results of the overall research process, started in 2008, are intended for use in forming recommendations for national- and local-level policies to benefit communities and the forest resources they use, as part of IUCN’s Landscapes and Livelihoods Strategy (LLS).

LLS strives to link forest management and poverty reduction in a way that alleviates rural poverty while improving forest conservation and the sustainable use of forest products. In Viet Nam, LLS primarily focuses on pro-poor and pro-sustainability policy advocacy.

To align research with LLS objectives, the meeting was held to present results and lessons learned from 2008 studies, exchange ideas and findings among learning network members, and design more appropriate research for 2009.

The Survey and Learning Process (SLP) discussed at the workshop is a collaboration between IUCN, the Viet Nam Institute of Forestry Research (VIFA) and Bac Kan and Thua Thien Hue DARDs.

The research presented had been conducted on three topics at the village level: livelihoods and the use and marketing of non-timber forest products, forest management, and forest landscape restoration.

While that research yielded useful results, IUCN and the DARD researchers jointly agreed that such locally focused research was not fully sufficient to support national and provincial policy advocacy. They determined that they would take note of productive village-level findings when designing larger-scale studies.

The next round of research will build upon that completed in 2008 by focusing more specifically on forest product trading, market incentives and Community Forest Management (CFM).

CFM is recognized as an efficient management option, but local people lack the capacity to develop management plans as required. Communities have trouble obtaining permission to use and harvest forest products because the current regulations were developed for state forest enterprises. Research is therefore needed to determine how policy might be adjusted to address those problems.

Another major issue in Bac Kan is that market access is limited for communities that produce forest goods, and they often lose a significant portion of their potential salary to middlemen. Researchers agreed that improving market access is a topic on which additional analysis is needed.

As such, in 2009, LLS will further collect data and lessons from previous and on-going projects and programs in Bac Kan, Thua Thien – Hue and other locations. IUCN then will develop recommendations for local and central policy formulation and adjustment for establishing a fair and sustainable market for forest products and feasible regulations for CFM.

For more information, please contact Ms. Ly Thi Minh Hai at hai@iucn.org.vn.

Viet Nam
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