Reforesting “Bare Hills” in Vietnam: Social and Environmental Consequences of the 5 Million Hectare Reforestation Program
Large-scale rehabilitation and reforestation of Vietnam has been promoted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, but unexpected outcomes have, in some cases, harmed local communities. Within this case study from northern Vietnam, lands classified as "barren hills" actually contained a number of economically-important nontimber products which local communities and individuals, particularly poor households and women, were reliant on. These nontimber products included fuelwood, medicines, construction material, food, and pasture.
Research goals & methods
This case study explores the impacts of forest rehabilitation of "unused lands" on communities in the Ha Tinh province of Vietnam. Surveys evaluating the influence of firewood use, income, and forest product dependency in natural forests, "bare hill lands," and timber plantations. In-depth participant observations and oral histories were also incorporated.
Conclusions & Takeaways
This case study of "bare hills" rehabilitation in northern Vietnam shows possible negative consequences of implementing new timber plantations bourne by the rural poor. When "barren hills" were converted to monocrop exotic tree plantations, nontimber products and their benefits to local communities were removed. Regreening projects reallocating land and the economic benefits of reforestation have perpetuated inequities, particularly for women and the rural poor, and reforestation with monocrop tree plantations can result in unwanted and counter-productive social, environmental, and economic conditions for communities reliant on nontimber products.
Reforesting “Bare Hills” in Vietnam: Social and Environmental Consequences of the 5 Million Hectare Reforestation Program. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment. 2009;38:325–333. doi:10.1579/08-r-520.1..
- School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA