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Addressing the concerns of local stakeholders in REDD+

implementation - results from a participatory

consultation process in Viet Nam

Working paper

Viet Nam’s National REDD+ Action Program (NRAP) is moving toward the pilot implementation

phase. For REDD+ to be successful, it is important that the concerns of local actors, particularly local

communities, are taken into account.

To address concerns on REDD+, local people suggest keeping a balance between livelihood

development and forest conservation (for REDD+), allocating forests with land use titles (instead of

being contracted to protect the forests for the state), informing and involving local people in discussion

on REDD+ design and implementation, and maintaining transparency in REDD+ implementation.


Since 2011, over 2,000 people have participated in training and awareness raising events organized by the Grassroots Capacity Building for REDD+ 1 in Asia Project (hereafter referred to as the Project) in Viet Nam. Many

of the participants were from the grassroots level in the four provinces of Bac Kan, Ha Tinh, Lam Dong and Ca Mau. One of the main objectives of these events was to improve understanding of climate change and REDD+ and place participants in a position to take advantage of any potential beneits from REDD+ in the future.

At the same time, the National REDD+ Action Program (NRAP) of Viet Nam is about to move to the pilot implementation phase. For REDD+ to be successfully implemented in Viet Nam in and in selected provinces, it is important that REDD+ implementation responds to local concerns. Failure to do so may lead to unfulillment of Cancun safeguard requirements on efective participation of local communities. Most importantly, it may threaten the livelihoods of local (forest dependent) communities and create reverse impacts on existing forest resources (i.e. engraving the deforestation and degradation of existing forests).

A series of consultation meetings with grassroots stakeholders have been organized by the Project with the aim to understand their concerns for REDD+ implementation and to identify possible ways to address these concerns. This paper presents key concerns of local stakeholders, collected through participatory processes, about the implementation of REDD+ and suggested ways forward.

The consultation process

Between 2014 and September 2015, 21 consultation workshops took place in four provinces: Bac Kan (two districts and six communes), Ha Tinh (one district and two communes), Lam Dong (two districts and three communes) and Ca Mau (one district and two communes). Overall, 533 people were present (see more details in Table 1) in these consultation meetings. Participants in the commune level workshops were commune oicers and representatives from the village level. Participants in the district level meetings were representatives from selected communes (where consultations had taken place earlier) and oicers from various technical units and mass organizations (e.g. women’s union, youth union and farmers union) in the district.

The consultations used participatory approaches to facilitate maximum sharing and discussion of the participants, including women. Participants worked in small groups to discuss three key questions:

- What are the key issues of concern (for the group) if REDD+ is implemented in the local area? - For each of the top three or four issues, why is the issue of your (the groups) concern?

- What is the way forward?

The groups then presented their discussion results to the plenary for general discussion. The whole process (both plenary and group work) was facilitated by the Project-trained local counterparts, back-stopped by RECOFTC staf.


Overall the concerns from the stakeholder consultations in four provinces can be categorized into nine themes:

1. Security of forest-based livelihood: In all the consultation workshops, concerns about livelihood were the most prominent. The key issues of concern in livelihood are:

* Quantity and sustainability of cash payments from REDD+ for local people (e.g. would REDD+ payment be able to meet local needs?);

* Non-cash beneits from REDD+ projects (e.g. will logging and collection of forest products be allowed in REDD+ sites?);

* Alternative income generation activities (e.g. cropping, livestock raising, use of non forested areas for cropping);

* Ability of REDD+ project to provide loans or inancial support for livelihood development of local people, such as currently being done under UN-REDD pilot projects or other forestry projects;

* REDD+ payments for non-project areas, groups of people (e.g. would communities/ people not directly involved in forest protection be eligible for REDD+ money?);

* Support for rural infrastructure (e.g. forest roads); and * Marketing of forest products that (REDD+) project supports.

Reasons for the concerns:

Past experiences from forest projects showed that the payment to local people for protecting the forest was often not stable. Forest protection contracts had to be renewed annually and local people were unclear about if they would have the contract the following year because it was up to the local state forest company/ management board that was in charge of managing the forests. In addition, local people perceived payment as being too low to get them actively engaged in forest protection.

Local people depend on forests in many ways for their livelihoods (e.g. fuel wood for drying tobacco or collection of wild plants for medicines). If REDD+ is going to limit the use of forest products, alternative income activities need to be introduced to ensure that local people are not worse of.

Rural credit is not readily accessible to all who need it. At least 50% of the demand of loans for production development of local households is not met (in some communes, almost no one has had access to any formal loans in the past few years).

Many communities have been living together in the local area for a long time and they share the same forest resources. If REDD+ covers only a few communities, what will happen with the others? Past experiences show that if two or more communities have been sharing the forest resources and a project came in and covered only one of them, the result is conlict among these communities –inluencing the success of the project.

Rural infrastructure, including roads to plantation forests, is poor, afecting the prices of inputs (e.g. seeds, seedlings, fertilizers) that local households have to buy and the prices of agriculture and forest products that they can sell.

Current policy on harvesting and marketing of forest products is too complicated for local community to comply with.

In the past, some projects were successful in helping local people plant trees /bamboos or produce agricultural products. However, these projects did not include a market support component so local people were not able to ind a market for their products and lost important income.


2. Free prior and informed consent (FPIC) and participation: land use planning and land allocation’ and ‘training and extension support’ are the next most common concerns of the local people. These topics came up in all but two meetings. For FPIC and participation, local people are concerned about :

* Clear information about REDD+ projects provided in full and on time; * Local people involved in the discussion of REDD+ project implementation;

* Consent sought from local people (including non-project communes) and concerned government bodies for REDD+ implementation;

* Efective and full participation of local people in REDD+; and * Female participation in forest conservation and REDD+ activities.

Reasons for the concerns:

For REDD+, local stakeholders currently have limited knowledge of projects to be implemented (including target groups, purposes, scope of activities and others). It is important for them to understand these projects if they are to be implemented in the local areas. Only when they are fully aware about the projects and agree on the proposed plans can they commit themselves to the implementation of project activities.

Several past projects implemented in diferent locations did not provide proper information about activities. For example, in village meetings about local issues, no information about the project was provided. In addition, communication is often one-way, which limits what local people can ask about the projects. Past projects often did not properly involve local communities in the discussion of project activities. Projects often came with pre-deined set of activities.

To date, the rate of women involved in local level projects is low. Women are often too shy to raise concerns in (big) meetings and participation is low when no appropriate participatory approach is used.

Past projects mainly focused meetings on project target groups/communities. There was little to no communication with project areas/ groups. As a result, conlict may occur between target and non-target groups in the course of implementing project activities.

3. Participatory land use planning and land allocation: In terms of land use planning and land allocation (LUP-LA), local stakeholders were concerned about:

* Clariication of land boundaries (between communities and households); * Review of current land use plans; and

* Allocation of (both production and protection) forest with title to local communities/ people.

Reasons for the concerns:

In a number of locations (particularly in Lam Dong province), land allocation has not taken place and no forest rights have been given to local people. Local people are only contracted to protect forest resources. Forest contracting is done and renewed annually and does not give local people rights to forests.

In locations where forest land allocation has taken place, there was poor participation of local people in the land use planning and land allocation process. As a result, overlaps of land boundaries between households and communities are common. Many people do not know exactly where their forests are in the ield and on the map. This situation has still not been properly dealt with.

In other cases, no forest land use title has been given after land allocation.


4. Lack of training and extension support: For training and extension, local stakeholders are concerned about:

* Training for technical staf and local oicials; * Awareness raising on climate change and REDD+;

* Training on livelihood development/ income generation for local people; * Appropriate approaches in training for local communities; and

* Technical support (e.g. extension staf, technical materials).

Reasons for the concerns:

Local stakeholders have been provided with initial information on climate change and REDD+. Because REDD+ is a new and complicated concept, it is important that climate change and REDD+ awareness raising continues to be provided to local stakeholders, particularly community members.

Local stakeholders are happy with the participatory approach used in training by RECOFTC and their counterparts. It helps local stakeholders stay active during the whole training and learn better than in other trainings. In the past, many trainings use technical language and there is no practice or discussion, which limits learning.

When REDD+ comes, forest utilization may be limited. To help local people maintain their livelihoods from alternative sources, technical training for local people in various topics (e.g. livestock raising, new cropping techniques) will be needed. In addition, technical extensionists need to be available to provide regular support. Training needs to be provided to local people and oicials so that they can provide technical support/ training to community members.

5. Policy and coordination: In more than half of the meetings, concerns on ‘policy and coordination’, ‘risk associated with REDD+ implementation’ and ‘forest management’ were expressed. On policy and coordination, local stakeholders are concerned about lack of:

* Clear policy mechanisms for REDD+ implementation;

* Efective coordination of concerned stakeholders in REDD+ implementation; and * REDD+ policy framework not available for local implementation.

Reasons for the concerns:

In previous projects, disbursement of project support did not follow the plan/ commitments.

Currently, there is a weak coordination in the protection of existing forests. Local forest rangers do not work directly with community members and local authorities are not engaged. Even within communities the coordination of diferent patrol teams has not been very good, causing irregular patrol of forest areas. REDD+ is a new issue and relevant policy framework has not been established to guide its implementation.

6. Risk associated with REDD+: In terms of risk associated with REDD+, local stakeholders are concerned about: * Inefective implementation of REDD+ (including land use conlict) afects local life;

* Natural calamities may afect the result of REDD+ implementation; * Corruption in REDD+ implementation;


Reasons for the concerns:

Lack of transparency in the implementation of previous projects lead to conlicts and sabotage activities. Natural calamities (e.g. landslide, storms, forest ires, droughts) may happen and destroy forests, afecting the REDD+ payments local people may receive.

Although the Law on Corruption has been in efect, implementation is not suiciently strict. Corrupted behaviors have not been seriously dealt with.

Previous projects came and went. Payment for forest protection was available during the project lifetime, REDD+ payment may be on the same track.

Forests are part of local life and culture. REDD+ implementation may limit certain use of forest integral to local culture (e.g. building of timber houses).

7. Forest management: For forest management, the local stakeholders are concerned are about: * How to conserve (existing) forests better/ more efectively;

* Attention to forest conservation. Reasons for the concerns:

Although various efects have been made so far to protect existing forest resources, deforestation still continues due to forest ire, encroachment and logging.

Forest patrolling is not regularly done. Patrolling tasks are not done as required.

Forests have not been allocated to local communities with land use titles. In other cases, forest land allocation took place in one community but not in the neighboring community, thus the latter encroached on the forest of the former.

8. Lack of transparency: in about one third of the consultation workshops, local stakeholders

ex-pressed concerns about transparency and law enforcement, speciically about transparency in REDD+


Reasons for the concerns:

The implementation of some past projects was not transparent, including allocation of forests

and distribution of beneits among local households. For example, the size of the forest was not

equitable among local households, the money local people received for their forest protection

contracts was lower than the government rate, but they did not have a clear explanation from

project implementing agency;

In the past, local people patrolling the forests have reported a number of violation cases and

hand-ed them to forest rangers and Communal Forest Board. Yet, how these cases were handlhand-ed was not

commonly agreed by local people; and

Currently local issues have not been handled transparently, causing skepticism among local people.

9. Lack of law enforcement: local stakeholders expressed concerns about law enforcement, speciically regarding the transparency in REDD+ payment and strength of law enforcement. These concerns are stemmed from weak law enforcement. In a number of places, violations of the Forest Protection and Development Law were common and not properly dealt with. Local forest rangers avoid dealing with illegal loggers and few unlawful acts are covered.

The way forward



REDD+ payments need to meet the cost of protecting the forest and the compensation for local people

to refrain from using the forests for other purposes (opportunity costs). It is expected that REDD+

pay-ments will be higher than current paypay-ments for forest ecosystem services (PFES



REDD+ should allow the collection of (certain) forest products, particularly for basic needs of the local

communities, such as house construction and foods in a sustainable manner;

Where collection of forest products is limited (and thus local livelihoods are afected), it is important

to introduce/support alternative income/sources of livelihoods, including technical

training/backstop-ping, input provision (seedlings, seeds), rural credits (no or low interests), and marketing of products

(including provision of market information). Selection of households to beneit from these supports

needs to be openly discussed during village meetings; and

Where possible, investment needs to be made to build key rural infrastructure works, such as local

schools or the main road to forests or ields.

FPIC and participation:

Build up teams of REDD+ local facilitators to help raise awareness in climate change and REDD+ among

concerned actors and facilitate the local engagement process;

All information related to any REDD+ project to be implemented in the local area needs to be provided

well in advance by various means of communication to not only village head but all community members;

Consent not only from the target area but also from neighboring communities and local authorities

needs to be sought before commencing REDD+; and

Women and disadvantaged groups need to be engaged in REDD+ processes though separate training

and awareness raising activities.

Land use planning and land allocation:

In the areas where LUP-LA has taken place, it is important to review the concerns of actors to identify

overlaps in land boundaries or any possible situation. Remedial measures need to be developed

to-gether with concerned actors based on these reviews;

Where LUP-LA has not taken place, it is desirable to allocate forest land to local people along with forest

land use titles. The allocation process needs to involve concerned actors, particularly local

communi-ties; and

Where land allocation is not possible, it is desirable that forest contracting take place in a

participa-tory and transparent way to ensure the selection of households receiving forest contracts is based on

agreed criteria, which may be proactively in favor of the poor and disadvantaged.

Training and extension support:

Training needs to be provided for not only local communities (particularly women and the poor) but

also for technical oicials in need of training in REDD+ and climate change;

For training of local communities, particularly ethnic minorities, it is important to use an approach that

its their educational level and gets them engaged in the training. Try to use simple language which is

close to local context; and

There should be extension support (personnel) and materials (technical booklet, guides) accessible to

local people.

---2 PFES was piloted in Viet Nam between 2008 and 2010 with the payment of around 200,000-400,000 VND per ha per year


Policy and coordination:

Develop necessary mechanism for coordination among concerned bodies; There should be a monitoring body for REDD+ project implementation; and Have regular weekly/ monthly meeting with presence of all concerned bodies.


Regularly monitor and patrol the forest for timely identiication of threats; Make inancial support available when risks occur.

Forest management:

Develop necessary forest management regulations (including patrolling, ire ighting, reporting of violations);

Regular involvement of Communal Forest Board in checking implementation of village forest management regulations, particularly patrolling; and

Sanctioning of violations of regulation or neglect of assigned tasks (such as patrolling) should be strictly complied with.


Make sure that the process of REDD+ implementation (particularly selection of beneiciaries, beneit distribution, allocation of tasks) is transparent. Any issue arisen has to be discussed in open village meetings.

Law enforcement:

Concerned state bodies need to be involved to investigate the corrupted behaviors (such as covering-up unlawful acts).


This brief presented key concerns of local stakeholders, particularly those of community members, including women and ethnic minorities, in the implementation of REDD+. These concerns were collected from a participatory consultation process, where each and every participant was given the chance to express their ideas.

The concerns deal with various aspects of REDD+ implementation. Although they are not backed up by scientiic analyses, the justiications are well grounded as they closely link with cultural life and past experiences that local stakeholders have built up so far, including the implementation of past and current projects/programs in their respective locations. The proposed ways forward may not be holistic, but they represent what should work well from a local perspective. As the success of REDD+ and any forest initiatives are well connected with local context, it is important that REDD+ policy makers and implementers take these concerns and suggestions into account for efective implementation of REDD+ in Viet Nam.

RECOFTC’s mission is to enhance capacities for stronger rights, improved governance and fairer beneits for local people in sustainable forested landscapes in the Asia and the Paciic region.

RECOFTC holds a unique and important place in the world of forestry. It is the only international not-for-proit organization that specializes in capacity development for community forestry. RECOFTC engages in strategic networks and efective partnerships with governments, nongovernmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, local people and research and educational institutes throughout the Asia-Paciic region and beyond. With over 25 years of international experience and a dynamic approach to capacity development – involving research and analysis, demonstration sites and training products – RECOFTC delivers innovative solutions for people and forests.

For more information about the Grassroots project, please visit website www.recoftc.org/project/grassroots-capacity-building-redd

RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests P.O. Box 1111


Table 1) in these consultation meetings. Participants in the commune level workshops were commune oicers


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