Complete forest land review and planning in Sin Cheng commune
- In October 2020, CIRUM staff worked with various partner agencies in Lao Cai province to close the project for supporting a pilot model of natural forest review, forest classification and advocacy for forest land allocation to households and community in Sin Cheng commune, Si Ma Cai district. This is the first pilot program for implementing Point 4 of the Article 108 of the Forestry Law 2017 which is funded by Bread for the World (BFTW) and McKnight Foundation.
Through working sessions with Lao Cai Forest Protection Department (FPD), Si Ma Cai District People's Committee (DPC), Si Ma Cai District Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE), Sin Cheng Commune People's Committee (CPC), the parties noticed successful completion of the forest review at the field and settlement of overlaps related to community forests. As the project management unit, Sin Cheng CPC proactively submitted necessary documents to the district level, at the same time kept in contact to accelerate the progress of forestland allocation. Si Ma Cai FPD has coordinated to complete forest inventory, supplement the tree stock sheet, verify the status of three forest types, forest areas and forest land planning. Si Ma Cai DPC actively supported the submission of procedures to Lao Cai DONRE to promote completion of office work for forest land allocation.
Meeting between representatives of CIRUM and Lao Cai Forest Protection Department
The representative of Lao Cai FPD said that the lessons learned from the forest review and classification have helped this agency develop a guideline for the forest review and classification process. This not only has great implications for the entire Lao Cai province, but also helps the FPD officers of other provinces to exchange and learn from the guideline of Lao Cai province.
When considering the formal map for land allocation to households, Lao Cai DONRE recognizes discrepancies and difficulties due to a number of relevant law provisions. Specifically, Article 136 of the 2013 Land Law stipulates that the State allocates protective forest land to the organizations that manage protection forests (Clause 1); management boards of protection forests offer contracts of forest land to households (Clause 2). Organizations, households and individuals shall be assigned protection forest land by the State for forest protection and development in the protection forest areas where there is no management organization and no planning area for planting protection forests (Clause 3 ). On the other hand, Article 16, Clause 2 of the Law on Forestry regulates the allocation of watershed protection forest land and water source protection forests to households, individuals and communities. However, the enforcement agencies are not sure if households and communities are entitled to get allocation of natural protection forests.
The above provisions lead to the understanding of many enforcement officers that households are not entitled to get allocated protection forestland where exist protection forest management board. Therefore, the authorities in Lao Cai province (DONRE and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development/ DARD) sent a written request to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to ask for clarification of the above-mentioned regulations. So far, those provincial agencies only received a written response that “land allocation has to be accordance with the law”, without clear confirmation of the allocation of protective forest land to households.
Although the allocation of land to households is subject to inconsistent regulations, leaders of Sin Cheng commune, Si Ma Cai district and representatives of Lao Cai FPD all expressed their desire to allocate forest land to households and communities, so that local people can actively participate in forest protection and help to reduce the burden on the FPD.
Meeting between representatives of CIRUM, Sin Cheng CPC, Si Ma Cai DONRE and FPD
Since the project timeframe has ended, CIRUM has agreed with partners to complete records to demonstrate the actual activities, regardless of whether the decision to issue land-use certificates for households and communities be completed within the project timeframe.
According to the consultants, due to discrepancies in allocating forests to households, the district and provincial authorities agreed to separate the forest land that could be allocated to the community, then complete the documents and send to DONRE for approval of land allocation maps and land certificates for community. Si Ma Cai DONRE worked with the district FPD, dubbed the rangers map, took out the overlapping areas, and identified 32.7ha as the actual remaining area allocated to the community. At present, Si Ma Cai DONRE is ready to produce land certificates to the community, although it still has to wait for the provincial DONRE to approve the cadastral profile and land allocation map.