Living within protected areas in Vietnam: situations, issues and strategies

Thuy Thi Phan (2007). Living within protected areas in Vietnam: situations, issues and strategies PhD Thesis, School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, The University of Queensland.

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Author Thuy Thi Phan
Thesis Title Living within protected areas in Vietnam: situations, issues and strategies
School, Centre or Institute School of Natural and Rural Systems Management
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2007-09
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor Robert Beeton
Associate Professor Robert Cramb
Dr Peter Dart
Total pages 562
Subjects 300000 Agricultural, Veterinary and Environmental Sciences
Abstract/Summary Many of the world’s protected areas (PAs) are inhabited, and this is a challenge for governments, organizations and individuals who need to reconcile the demands of both conservation and development. Resettlement has been seen as one strategy to achieve this. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that in countries such as Vietnam little information on biodiversity conservation has been documented and information both on the resettled people and the condition of PAs after resettlement – are either scanty or completely absent. This study focused on the perspectives of people living within PAs in Vietnam, and examined their socio-economic situations, the development and conservation issues they confront, and the strategies that are employed by various levels of government and other agencies to deal with their presence within PAs. This was done using Pu Mat National Park (PMNP) as the main case study in order to address three questions: (1) What were the conservation and development issues people within PMNP faced? (2) Why was resettlement chosen and how was it implemented? and (3) What were the impacts of the resettlement program in ensuring both conservation and development outcomes. Another five supplementary case studies: Cuc Phuong National Park, Ba Be National Park, Xuan Son National Park, Cat Tien National Park and Pu Huong Nature Reserve were selected as comparisons with PMNP. The case studies were examined using a variety of qualitative and quantitative data derived from documentary sources, key informants, semi-structured interviews, group discussions and participant observation. PMNP has extremely high biodiversity and is of nternational conservation significance. It was officially confirmed as a PA, the highest classification for biodiversity conservation in Vietnam. An ethnic minority group, the Dan Lai, live in three villages located on the upper streams of the Khe Khang Valley 15-45 km within the Park’s Core Zone in one of the most important conservation areas of PMNP. The Dan Lai, however, have been doubly disadvantaged because their location remains undeveloped and their lives are restricted by conservation regulations. As a result, since 1997 when Pu Mat Nature Reserve was established, their living standards have deteriorated. Resettlement projects have had mixed effects on the livelihoods of the Dan Lai in both the short- and long-terms, with negative impacts outweighing the positive. In both cases, the resettled people received more advantages in terms of regional development and support from other projects. However, the land at the new site was of poor quality, and the Dan Lai, who are not used to an intensive farming system, suffered agricultural failures. Resettlement also failed in mitigating the marginalization of the affected people in the program’s early stages. In terms of conservation outcomes, however, the resettlement projects impacted positively in both the short- and long-terms. The local people in resettled villages now have better knowledge about conservation and their attitudes toward conservation are more positive. In the new sites they are also less involved in forest exploitation. It appears that the Dan Lai have not been the main cause of recent biodiversity loss in the Park as they have mainly exploited forest products for their subsistence needs. Rather, people from outside, some of them professional hunters, fishermen and loggers, have more seriously impacted on conservation. However, with increasing exposure to people from outside and accelerating forest exploitation and economic development, the Dan Lai’s influence on the Park is now beginning to pose a greater danger to conservation. Taking all these factors in account, this study concluded that resettlement into more developed areas would now be the most appropriate action for the Dan Lai remaining in the Park. With the five supplementary case studies, overall it was found that, on the one hand, the residents of PAs have very low living standards. On the other, it cannot be denied that these people pose significant threats to conservation as populations rapidly increase and lifestyles are gradually shifting to embrace a market orientated economy. Several strategies have been employed in the five supplementary case studies but most of these have not been effective or enduring. All five PAs, except Pu Huong Nature Reserve, have pursued a resettlement approach. When resettlement has been undertaken only a part of the population has been relocated with more people needing to be moved in the future. Other collaborative management approaches have been only party employed in two cases. Because of the diversity and complexity of different situations in various PAs in Vietnam, it is not possible to prescribe a single strategy or framework for people living within them. However, in the six cases examined in this study, the strategies selected have not achieved the expected outcomes. This indicates that finding an effective framework for this issue that is practical in the Vietnamese context is an urgent task. Experience from resettlements both within Vietnam and globally demonstrates that in order to achieve both development and conservation objectives, appropriate resources and a well developed plan are required for successful resettlement.

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Created: Fri, 30 Jan 2009, 16:08:48 EST by Catherine Kelley on behalf of Library - Information Access Service