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REDD+ as a Vehicle for Community-Based Forest Management? Critical Insights from Vietnam


Both the reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation program (REDD+) and community-based forest management (CBFM) aim to combat forest degradation and deforestation on various levels. Both approaches include multiple objectives such as carbon sequestration, livelihood improvement and forest tenure reform. New institutions, such as community-forest management boards or REDD+ implementation agencies, are being introduced to achieve sustainable development in the forestry sector. However, the way REDD+ affects local CBFM systems and community livelihoods remains understudied. This study analyzes the effects of REDD+ on CBFM systems in Vietnam. We selected four research communes (sub-district level units) and we conducted household surveys (n = 187), focus group discussions (n = 4), expert interviews (n = 8) and secondary data analysis (n = 23). Our findings show that in one commune REDD+ introduced CBFM and forestland allocation to communities in accordance with their customary boundaries. In another commune, REDD+ was implemented in a pre-existing CBFM and institutional landscape, and the program had little effect on households’ livelihoods. The implementation of CBFM in all four communes led to further consolidation of influence of formal institutions and a higher level of formalization among involved communities. Based on the results of this study, we propose a novel typology on CBFM systems in a post-REDD+ era. This typology takes the level of formalization, marketization, globalization and forest dependence of respective households, which make up a community, into account. We present CBFM systems on a spectrum from customary to formal, and we highlight the need to adapt REDD+ and CBFM to individual households’ livelihood trajectories.

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Data from: Giungato et al. (2008) and Marsh (2007)

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This study was supported by the Worldwide Universities Network Research Fund titled “Adopting REDD+ for Conservation, Sustainable Community Livelihood and Climate Change Mitigation”.

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Correspondence to Mucahid Mustafa Bayrak.

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Bayrak, M.M., Marafa, L.M. REDD+ as a Vehicle for Community-Based Forest Management? Critical Insights from Vietnam. Small-scale Forestry 19, 57–81 (2020).

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  • Community-based forest management
  • Forests and livelihoods
  • Indigenous communities
  • Forest governance typology