The politics of landscape restoration: Lessons from Vietnam

Pamela McElwee

Publication Date:

For many years, Vietnam was the posterchild for wartime devastation and the need for remediation in the aftermath of conflict. In the decades since the end of the war, Vietnam embarked on several ambitious restoration projects, including replanting of coastal mangroves and the expansion of inland forest cover through large-scale afforestation efforts. A Five Million Hectare Reforestation Project (5MHRP) that ran from 1998 to 2010 spent over US$1.5 billion total through state investment in seedling provision combined with land allocation to households to encourage them to plant trees. Such programs often focused on afforesting lands the state classified as “barren”, and recipient households transformed these lands into smallholder forestry plantations, ostensibly to reap both environmental and economic benefits. However, the social impacts of these restoration efforts, and the degree to which they were able to include equity and participation concerns, have not been well assessed. In our research with households involved in reforestation, there have been clear privileges afforded to richer households, and land stratification has been one result. Further, there have been negative impacts on women in particular (who often provided labor for tree planting but lost access to common lands they had used for non-timber forest product [NTFP] collection that were privatized as a result). By examining the Vietnam restoration agenda in the post-war years, through several case studies covering different parts of the country and varying ecological landscapes, this paper will note particular challenges for restoration projects championed by national governments but carried out by local households.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration