CIRUM and LandNet are very happy to inform our donors, partners and supporters that our work lobbying, advocating and advising policy makers on the implementation of the 2013 Land Law has paid off with a ground-breaking decree recognizing the rights of forest living communities.
Following our advice a new regulation, incorporated in Decree 01/2017/ND-CP dated 6th January 2017, clarifies a section of the 2013 Land Law, which had previously stated that only organizations could benefit from the allocation of production forests. There had been no mention of households or communities as possible legal owners of productive lands.
The revised decree now states that households, individuals, and communities who are living in forest areas can be legally allocated these forest areas as natural forest for production. These areas are presently recorded as belonging to the communal people's committees, and make up a substantial area of upland forest. In addition, an important implication of the decree is that those entities such as companies or state forest enterprises that have been allocated forest land but are failing to manage it properly, are in danger of having it reallocated to those living in the area
The change to Decree 01/2017/ND-CP is an important achievement from an advocacy process supported by CIRUM, Landnet and the Nùng, Tày, Dao, Mông, Thái, Ja Rai, Xê Đăng ethnic minority people of Northern, Central and Central Highland regions of Vietnam.
A village elder of Khe Váp village, Bắc Lãng commune, Đình Lập district, Lạng Sơn province tells a story to village youth illustrating the importance of sacred forests to the Tày ethic group. CIRUM supported a land allocation program in the commune
The advocacy was based on vivid evidence from the field from which CIRUM and Landnet have provided strong recommendations, reflecting the voices of many different ethnic groups calling for improvement to legislation and policies. An important document containing many of the recommendations and suggested solutions was Official Letter No 39/CV-CIRUM dated 27th November 2015 sent to the drafting team revising the Decree. Apart from some minor changes, the wording and meaning of section 33, Article 2 which contains the changes to Decree 01/2017/ND-CP has been taken in its entirety from CIRUM's official letter.
CIRUM and LandNet are continuing to advocate for revisions to the Land Law, and they and their partners are actively involving in collecting evidence and presenting recommendations to enable their advocacy for the draft revision of the law on Forest Protection and Development. Their particularly focus is on the rights of ethnic minority communities to use, manage and benefit from sacred forests, watershed forests and other cultural and livelihood spaces.
CIRUM/LandNet-organized expert seminar developing recommendations for the Draft revision of the Law on Forest Protection and Development, Hanoi, 2016.