Chairman of Kon Tum People’s Committee awards Ka Bay village for ‘Best village community forest management’
The Central Highlands region of Vietnam experiences many difficulties related to land use rights and environmental threats. The province of Kon Tum in particular is experiencing the degradation of forests due a lack of involvement from stakeholders in forest management.
Certificate awarded to Ka Bay village for their efforts in forest protection and management/ Photo: CIRUM
Annually in Kon Tum, approx. 1,000 hectares of natural forest land is converted to plantations for cassava, coffee, and pepper. Despite this, the village of Ka Bay in Ho Moong commune, Sa Thay district, has managed to maintain their natural forest areas and continue to grow local timber species such as Trac, Cam Lai and Sao den. The village of Ka Bay is home to the Ja Rai ethnic minority, and has been subjected to relocation twice as a result of two different hydropower plants; ‘Yaly’ and ‘Plei Krong’. In their new locations, the villagers have struggled to maintain a livelihood as they have little land for agricultural production, and are forced to find work outside of the village. They do receive annual food aid from the government.
In 2013, CIRUM and CODE began implementing the Forest Land Allocation Program (FLAP) in Ka Bay village over 30.8 hectares of land, as well as three other village in the nearby Sa Thay commune over 55.3 hectares of land. In 2015 and 2016, CIRUM and CODE partnered with the Kon Tum Union of Science and Technology Association, the Sa Thay District Agricultural Department and the Ho Moong Commune People’s Committee to support Ka Bay village to restore local timber trees to the forest land. The process included Ka Bay villagers participating in forest protection and management activities.Thanks to the FLAP and the cooperation of local authorities and companies, local forests are better protected, and the Ja Rai people are able to conserve their forest-based cultures and traditions. The unique maintenance methods of water-source forests means that the village is supplied with plenty of water for agriculture and daily life. In June 2016, while other areas of the Central Highlands were experiencing a crisis due to consecutive droughts, Ka Bay villagers has sufficient water to survive.
In November 2016 for the first time Mr Nguyen Van Hoa, the Chairman of Kon Tum Provincial People’s Committee, visited a village to observe the Village Community Forest Management model. Ka Bay village was selected, and Mr Hoa was impressed. He expressed his gratitude to Ka Bay villagers for their efforts in protecting and managing their natural forests as well as conserving Ja Rai ethnic culture. Mr Hoa stressed that the Ka Bay Village Community Forest Management model should be scaled up, and in the beginning of December 2016, Mr Hoa awarded Kay Bay village with the title of ‘Best Forest Protection and Management in Kon Tum province’. This is the first time that a village in Kon Tum has achieved such an accomplishment.
The Ka Bay villagers are now able to use their own customary laws to manage their forest, and practice their culture including the Giot Nuoc ceremony to thank the Forest Spirit. The Forest Land Allocation has proven to be an essential model in promoting sustainable forest management and protection as well as conserving traditional ethnic cultures.