Human Ecology

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 435–448 | Cite as

Local Governance, Social Networks and REDD+: Lessons from Swidden Communities in Vietnam

  • Moira MoelionoEmail author
  • Thu Thuy Pham
  • Ngoc Dung Le
  • Maria Brockhaus
  • Grace Wong
  • Maarit Kallio
  • Dinh Tien Nguyen


Swidden is often blamed for deforestation but research has shown that these traditional systems can have a role in maintaining and enhancing carbon stocks and therefore could be compatible with efforts such as payments for environmental services (PES) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) schemes in Vietnam. This would require that PES and REDD+ project developers build on existing local governance structures. In this paper we attempt to understand such structures though analysis of information and resource exchange in two communities in Vietnam, focusing on traditional local governance guiding swidden practices, and mass organisations.

Results show a high diversity of formal (government-formed networks) and informal (traditional) swidden governance structures that can be embedded in REDD+ and PES schemes, where geographical accessibility, socio-cultural practices, and capacities of government will also determine which structure will work best for swidden communities to participate in REDD+/PES.


Swidden Reducing emissions from deforestation and Forest degradation (REDD+) Payments for environmental services (PES) Local governance structure Vietnam 



This research is part of Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) contribution to the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change project coordinated by the ASEAN Social Forestry Network. We would like to express our special thanks to Christine Padoch from CIFOR for her support and comments, as well as Aneesh Anandas who produced the land-use maps. We also thank Le Manh Thang and Luong Thai Hung from Son La Forest Protection and Development Fund and Tran Binh from Con Cuong district People’s committee, and participants in Nghe An and Son La for their support during our field work.


  1. Agrawal A., Brown D. G., Rao G., Riolo R., Robinson D. T., and Bommarito M. II (2013). Interactions between organizations and networks in common-pool resource governance. Environmental Science & Policy 25: 138–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angelsen A., and McNeill D. (2012). The evolution of REDD+. In Angelsen A., Brockhaus M., Sunderlin W., and Verchot L. (eds.), Analysing REDD+: Challenges and choices, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia..Google Scholar
  3. Angelsen A. (2009). Introduction. In Angelsen A., Brockhaus M., Kanninen M., Sills E., Sunderlin W. D., and Wertz-Kanounnikoff S. (eds.), Realizing REDD+: National strategy and policy options, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia., pp. 1–9.Google Scholar
  4. Baland J. M., and Platteau J. P. (1996). Halting degradation of natural resources: is there a role for rural communities? Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  5. Bodin, A., Crona, B., Ernstson, H. (2006). Social networks in natural resource management: what is there to learn from a structural perspective? Ecology and Society 11(2): 2.Google Scholar
  6. Brockhaus, M., Angelsen, A. (2012). Seeing REDD+ through 4Is: a political economy framework. In: Angelsen, A., Brockhaus, M., Sunderlin, W. D., Verchot, L. V. (eds.) Analysing REDD+: Challenges and choices. pp 15–30. Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.Google Scholar
  7. Brockhaus M., Di Gregorio M., and Carmenta R. (2014). REDD+ policy networks: exploring actors and power structures in an emerging policy domain. Ecology and Society 19(4): 29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bruun T., de Neergaard A., Lawrence D., and Ziegler A. (2009). Environmental consequences of the demise in swidden cultivation in Southeast Asia: carbon storage and soil quality. Human Ecology 37: 375–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bruun T. B., Egay K., Mertz O., and Magid J. (2013). Improved sampling methods document decline in soil organic carbon stocks and concentrations of permanganate oxidizable carbon after transition from swidden to oil palm cultivation. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 178: 127–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cairns, M. (2007). Swidden agriculture: Ancient systems in transition. Sustaining food security and historic disturbance regimes. Available at:
  11. Carlsson L., and Sandstrom A. (2008). Network governance of the commons. International Journal of the Commons 2(1): 33–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Castella J. C., Lestrelin G., Hett C., Bourgoin J., Fitriana Y. R., Heinimann A., and Pfund J. L. (2013). Effects of landscape segregation on livelihood vulnerability: moving from extensive shifting cultivation to rotational agriculture and natural forests in northern Laos. Human Ecology 41: 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Corbera E., and Schroeder H. (2010). Governing and implementing REDD+. Environmental Science & Policy 14(2011): 89–99.Google Scholar
  14. Cramb R. A., Colfer C. J. P., Dressler W., Laungaramsri P., Quang T. L., Mulyoutami E., Peluso N. I., and Wadley R. L. (2009). Swidden transformations and rural livelihoods in Southeast Asia. Human Ecology 37: 323–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crona B., and Hubacek K. (2010). The right connections: how do social networks lubricate the machinery of natural resource governance? Ecology and Society 15(4): 18.Google Scholar
  16. De Koning J. (2011). Reshaping institutions bricolage processes in smallholder forestry in the Amazon, Doctoral dissertation, Wageningen University, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  17. Dedeurwaerdere, T. (2005). The contribution of network governance to sustainable development. Working paper series «Les séminaires de l’IDDRI », n° 13.Google Scholar
  18. Dove M. (1983). Theories of swidden agriculture, and the political economy of ignorance. Agroforestry Systems 1: 85–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. FCPF Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (2010). Readiness Preparation Proposal for: Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Nepal, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lao D.P.R. .Available at: Google Scholar
  20. Fischer A., and Petersen L. (2004). How incentives matter: a conceptual framework for natural resource governance in German development Coorperation, Conference on International Agricultural Research for Development. Deutcher Tropentag, Berlin .5–7 October 2004.Google Scholar
  21. Fischer A., Petersen L., and Happert W. (2009). Natural resources and governance: incentives for sustainable resource use manual, GTZ. Königsdruck GmbH, Berlin, Germany.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fox J., Fujita Y., Ngidang D., Peluso N., Potter L., Sakuntaladewi N., Sturgeon J., and Thomas D. (2009). Policies, political-economy, and swidden in Southeast Asia. Human Ecology 37: 305–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fox J., Castella J. C., and Ziegler A. (2014). Swidden, rubber and carbon: can REDD+ work for people and the environment in montane mainland Southeast Asia? Global Environmental Change 29: 318–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. FPP Forest Peoples Programme. 2014. Guiding principles: Free prior informed consent (FPIC). Available at:
  25. Galaz V., Crona B., Österblom H., Olsson P., and Folke C. (2012). Polycentric systems and interacting planetary boundaries: emerging governance of climate change-ocean acidification-marine biodiversity. Ecological Economics 81: 21–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gallemore C. T., Dini Prasti H. R., and Moeliono M. (2014). Discursive barriers and cross-scale forest governance in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Ecology and Society 19(2): 18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Granovetter M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology 78(6): 1360–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hett C., Castella J. C., Heinimann A., Messerli P., and Pfund J. L. (2011). A landscape mosaics approach for characterizing swidden systems from a REDD+ perspective. Applied Geography 32: 608–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kanowski P. J., McDermott C. L., and Cashore B. W. (2011). Implementing REDD+: Lessons from analysis of forest governance. Environmental Science & Policy 14(2): 111–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Keman H. (ed.) (2011). Comparative democratic politics: A guide to contemporary theory and research, SAGE Publication Ltd,, New York, USA.Google Scholar
  31. KFCP Kalimantan Forest Climate Partnership. (2014). Practical lessons from the Field: A synthesis of eight lessons learned papers from the KFCP REDD+ demonstration areas. Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership.Google Scholar
  32. Kickert W. (1997). Public governance in the Netherlands: An alternative to Anglo-American managerialism. Public Administration 75(4): 731–752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Korhonen-Kurki K., Brockhaus M., Duchelle A. E., Atmadja S., Pham T. T., and Schofield L. (2013). Multiple levels and multiple challenges for measurement, reporting and verification of REDD+. International Journal of the Commons 7(2): 344–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Korhonen-Kurki K., Brockhaus M., Bushley B., Babon A., Gebara M.F., Kengoum F., Pham T.T., Rantala S., Moeliono M., Dwisatrio B. and Maharani C. (2015). Coordination and cross-sectoral integration in REDD+: experiences from seven countries. Climate and Development, pp.1–14.Google Scholar
  35. Lemos M. C., and Agrawal A. (2006). Environmental governance. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 31: 297–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Marshall G. (1998). Oxford Dictionary of Sociology, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  37. McCarty A. (2014). Governance institutions and incentive structures in Vietnam. Conference, Building Institutional Capacity in Asia”., Jakarta .12 March 2001Google Scholar
  38. McElwee P. (1999). Policies of Prejudice: Ethnicity and Shifting Cultivation in Vietnam. Watershed 5(1): 30–38.Google Scholar
  39. Mertz O., Padoch C., Fox J., Cramb R. A., Leisz S. J., Nguyen T. L., and Tran D. V. (2009). Swidden change in Southeast Asia: understanding causes and consequences. Human Ecology 37: 259–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Newig J., Günther D., and Pahl-Wostl C. (2010). Synapses in the network: learning in governance networks in the context of environmental management. Ecology and Society 15(4): 24.Google Scholar
  41. Padoch C., and Sunderland T. (2013). Managing landscapes for greater food security and improved livelihoods. Unasylva 64(241): 3–13.Google Scholar
  42. Padoch C., Coffey K., Mertz O., Leisz S. J., Fox J., and Wadley R. L. (2007). The demise of swidden in Southeast Asia? Local realities and regional ambiguities. Geografisk Tiddskrift, Danish. Journal of Geography 107(1): 29–41.Google Scholar
  43. Parrotta J., Wildburger C., and Mansourian S. (2012). Understanding relationships between biodiversity, carbon, forests and people: The key to achieving REDD+ objectives. A global assessment report. Prepared by the Global Forest Expert Panel on Biodiversity, IUFRO World Series vol Volume 31, Forest Management and REDD+., Vienna, Austria.Google Scholar
  44. Pham T. T., Campbell B. M., Garnet S., Aslin H., and Hoang M. H. (2010). Importance and impacts of intermediary boundary organisations in facilitating payment for environmental services in Vietnam. Environmental Conservation 37(1): 64–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pham T. T., Moeliono M. M., Nguyen T. H., Nguyen H. T., and Vu T. H. (2012). The context of REDD+ in Vietnam: drivers, agents, and institutions, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.Google Scholar
  46. Pierre, J., Peters, G. B. (2000). Governance, politics and the state. Macmillan, London, UK.Google Scholar
  47. Powell N., Swartling A. G., and Hoang M. H. (2011). Rural development in Vietnam. In Powell N., Swartling Å. G., and Ha H. M. (eds.), Stakeholder Agency in Rural Development Policy: Articulating co-governance in Vietnam, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Hanoi, Vietnam.Google Scholar
  48. Prell, C., Reed, L., Racin, L., Hubacek, K. (2010). Competing structure, competing views: the role of formal and informal social structures in shaping stakeholder perceptions. Ecology and Society 15(4): 34.Google Scholar
  49. Ranganathan, C. R., Palanisami, K., Kakumanu, K. R., Baulraj, A. (2011). Mainstreaming the adaptations and reducing the vulnerability of the poor due to climate change. ADBI Working Paper Series No. 333.Google Scholar
  50. Sikor T., and Hoàng C. (2016). REDD+ on the rocks? Conflict Over Forest and Politics of Justice in Vietnam. Hum. Ecol. doi: 10.1007/s10745-016-9821-1.Google Scholar
  51. Sokile C. S., and Van Koppen B. (2005). Integrated water management in Tanzania: Interface between formal and informal institutions, International Workshop on “African Water Laws: Plural Legislative Frameworks for Rural Water Management in Africa”., Johannesburg .26-28 January 2005Google Scholar
  52. Springate-Baginski O., and Wollenberg E. (eds.) (2010). REDD, forest governance and rural livelihoods: the emerging agenda, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.Google Scholar
  53. Thakur R., and Van Langenhove L. (2006). Enhancing global governance through regional integration. Global Governance 12: 233–240.Google Scholar
  54. Theisohn, T., Land, T. (2006). Incentive systems: Incentives, motivation and development performance. A UNDP Capacity Development Resource. Capacity Development Group. Bureau for Development Policy. United Nations Development Programme.Google Scholar
  55. Thompson M. C., Baruah M., and Carr E. R. (2011). Seeing REDD+ as a project of environmental governance. Environmental Science & Policy 14: 100–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tran, N.C. 2011. Review of Vietnam’s innovation policy. Background paper prepared for the joint OECD-World Bank review of Vietnam’s national innovation systems.Google Scholar
  57. Van Noordwijk, M., Leimona, B. (2010). Principles for fairness and efficiency in enhancing environmental services in Asia: payments, compensation, or co-investment? Ecology and Society 15(4): 17.Google Scholar
  58. Vatn A., and Vedeld P. O. (2013). National governance structures for REDD+. Global Environmental Change 23: 422–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wellman B. (1983). Network analysis: some basic principles. Sociological Theory 1: 155–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wischermann J. (2010). Civil society action and governance in Vietnam: Selected findings from an empirical survey. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 29(2): 3–40.Google Scholar
  61. Wischermann J. (2013). Civic organizations in Vietnam's one-party state: Supporters of authoritarian rule? GIGA Working Paper No. 228, German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, Germany.Google Scholar
  62. Wode B., and Bao H. (2009). Vietnam study on state of the art of community forestry in Vietnam, GfA Consulting and GTZ, Hanoi, Vietnam.Google Scholar
  63. Wollenberg E., and Springate-Baginski O. (2009). Incentives+: how can REDD improve well-being in forest. CIFOR Infobrief no. 21, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.Google Scholar
  64. Wunder S. (2005). Payment for environmental services: Some nuts and bolts. CIFOR Occasional Paper No. 42, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.Google Scholar
  65. Ziegler A. D., Phelps J., Yuen J. Q., Webb E. L., Lawrence D., Fox J. M., Bruun T. B., Leisz S. J., Ryan C., Dressler W., Mertz O., Pascual U., Padoch C., and Koh L. P. (2012). Carbon outcomes of major land-cover transitions in SE Asia: great usncertainties and REDD+ policy implications. Global Change Biology 18(10): 3087–3099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moira Moeliono
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thu Thuy Pham
    • 2
  • Ngoc Dung Le
    • 2
  • Maria Brockhaus
    • 1
  • Grace Wong
    • 1
    • 3
  • Maarit Kallio
    • 1
    • 4
  • Dinh Tien Nguyen
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)Bogor (Barat)Indonesia
  2. 2.CIFORHanoiVietnam
  3. 3.Center for Southeast Asian StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  4. 4.Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI), Department of Forestry SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  5. 5.Center for Agricultural Research and Ecological Studies (CARES)Vietnam National University of AgricultureHanoiVietnam

Personalised recommendations