This study examines the customary laws and spiritual beliefs of the Van Kieu people of PLoang village, detailing land and forest management practices. It shows the connection between their spiritual beliefs and worship rituals, the preservation of forest and the sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products (NTFP). Detailing the annual cycle of cultivation and harvesting, the study shows the vital importance of the forest to the livelihoods of the Van Kieu, and how their stable traditional life has been badly disrupted by the allocation of their forests to a private company. A people living without modern services are now dependent on government handouts for survival. The forest land once so carefully managed and protected by the Van Kieu using their traditional customary law is now without protection, open to the illegal harvesting of timber and other products.
The authors argue for the return of traditional forests to communities that have shown their effective management. This would not only protect the bio-diversity of the forest, but the livelihoods and cultural identity of the ethnic minorities who have protected it for so long. With official use rights, so ownership and protection will be confirmed. To further ensure the forest’s long term survival and the income of the people, the report also argues for help in planning, training, and project help in alternative approaches to income generation.
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