On March 29, 2018, the assessment of Forest Land Allocation and grant of Land Use Right Certificates to communities was held at the meeting hall of Cao Son Commune People's Committee, Muong Khuong District, Lao Cai Province. There were 40 delegates representing Lao Cai Provincial Forest Protection Department (FPD), Muong Khuong District People's Committee, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Muong Khuong Management Board of protection forest, Cao Son Commune People's Committee, Forest Protection Unit in Cao Son Commune, representatives from 8 villages in Cao Son commune, and CIRUM staff.
A view of the assessment event
The forest land allocation program for the village communities in Cao Son Commune is based on an agreement between CIRUM, Muong Khuong District People's Committee and Lao Cai Provincial FPD signed on 5 June 2017. Cao Son is the first commune in Muong Khuong district to be consulted and supported by the CIRUM for forestland allocation to the communities. With the efforts of the involved parties, communities in 8 villages in Cao Son commune have recently been issued with 26 certificates of forestland use rights, popularly known as ‘red books’. The total area allocated to 8 villages is 274.73 ha. It is noteworthy that there are 4 'red books' issued jointly for 4 villages, given the reality that two villages traditionally share one land plot, so each of them need to get the same shared ‘red book’ (according to Decision No. 108 / QD-UBND dated 19 March 2018 of the Muong Khuong District People's Committee).
Representatives from the Muong Khuong District Forest Land Allocation Board handed over ‘red books’ to village leaders in Cao Son Commune
This is the first time village community forests in Cao Son commune have been officially recognized and issued with 'red books' on the basis of clarifying and resolving overlapping or conflicts relating to the community forest land. The boundaries of the community forest between the villages have been clearly defined by the villagers themselves. Households having land overlapping with community forest land have volunteered to return the land to the community. Specifically, 26.86 ha of 18 households have been returned to the community, and have been formally endorsed by Decision 588 / QD-UBND dated 27 December 2017 of Muong Khuong District People's Committee on land acquisition and granting land use certificates in Cao Son commune. Furthermore, in order to meet the aspirations of the local people, the district and commune authorities are continuing to complete procedures to request Lao Cai Provincial People's Committee to recover the overlapping forest land area under the current management of the Muong Khuong district Management Board of Protection Forest to return to the local communities, which are considered as the right, legitimate land holders. There has been no such precedent in Lao Cai province. At present, local authorities are pursuing this land reallocation process.