Linking Reforestation Policies with Land Use Change in Northern Vietnam: Why Local Factors Matter

Linking Reforestation Policies with Land Use Change in Northern Vietnam: Why Local Factors Matter


Based on a case study in Vietnam, this study seeks to understand the extent to which common state policies on land management actually contribute to reforestation. 

Research Goals & Methods

The goal of the study is to understand land use change from an institutional perspective. Using a modified version of the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework, the authors evaluated farmers' decisions regarding upland management and land use in three villages. By analyzing cases in which farmers stopped cropping and started planting trees, they found that few farmers actually stopped farming because they preferred to reforest.

Conclusions & Takeaways

The authors find that reforestation was not a direct result of the government policies designed to promote it. Instead, The main reasons were poor soil fertility and grazing possibilities. Farmers often chose reforestation for other reasons: nothing else could grow (24%), fuelwood (19%), government subsidies (19%), and other factors. Additionally, domino effects took place in which one farmer stopping cultivation encouraged another farmer to change as well because the farmer could not protect their land from livestock and buffalo. The authors assert that tree plantations are not sustainable in Vietnam because it is not financially attractive, the government only provided exotic (Acacia or Eucalyptus spp.) tree saplings that degraded the soil, the retoric on why reforestation is environmentally and socially beneficial is too simplistic. The authors assert that, instead, local factors need to be considered as a key part of encouraging reforestation.



Clement F, Amezaga JM. Linking reforestation policies with land use change in northern Vietnam: Why local factors matter. Geoforum. 2008;39:265–277. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2007.05.008.


  • School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, UK
  • Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability (IRES), Newcastle University, UK