Unable to see benefits from their jobs, people have returned to the state forested areas that were given to them to protect.
In 2010, the Binh Dinh provincial Forest Rangers’ Unit allocated 13,000 hectares of natural forests to 99 local households for management and protection. In 2015, all the 99 households gave back the forests to the state.
“They are tired of protecting the forests because they cannot get any benefits from the forests,” said Nguyen Hieu Hoa, head of the Binh Dinh provincial Forest Rangers’ Unit.
Forland and Crd, the two forestland and rural development organizations, conducting a survey on forestland, found that the same problem had occurred in many provinces.
Ten years ago, each of 58 households in Huong Loc commune in Thua Thien-Hue province was allocated 5-20 hectares of forests for protection. However, they have not cared about the forests over many years. They have not visited the forests since 2012.
Since local authorities did not license them to collect low-quality wood, they have left wood dead in the forests. It is nearly impossible to exploit wood for commercial purposes because of complicated procedures.
Most of the forests allocated to people are poor and exhausted forests. Meanwhile, people are told to follow a series of regulations stipulated in many different legal documents.
This makes it unattractive for people to take the job of protecting and developing forests. Particularly, the rights for natural forest use are much more limited than the rights for other types of land, such as agricultural land.
In Thua Thien-Hue province, 19,000 hectares of forest land were allocated to locals for development and protection. However, many households in A Luoi and Nam Dong districts said they still have not received the certificates on forestry land use rights.
The 12 households of Tay ethnic minority in Tan Pheo commune of Hoa Binh province, who were allocated 225 hectares of natural forest 15 years ago, have ‘lost’ the forest.
The local authorities have took back the forestland and then allocated to the Phu Canh Sanctuary without any notice in advance.
Meanwhile, the people who have been protecting the forests for many years have not received compensation for having to give back the forests.
Hoa noted that it was wrong to think that it would be better not to give too much power to households, or that forests would be more seriously devastated.
He said that deforestation should be blamed on bad management, not on the people’s bad protection.