Strengthening grassroots organisations for forest management: the case of induced forest-based grassroots groups in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam
Academic and public policy interest in the role of local resource users in the management of forests has grown in recent decades. While much attention has focused on the self-organisation of user groups, with autonomy as a precondition for successful collective action, there has been relatively little research into the influence of external factors on the role of so-called induced grassroots organisations – organisations created through donor or government funding – in natural resource management (NRM). Nonetheless, it is evident that external influences are of critical importance to these organisations in authoritarian countries, and the establishment of grassroots organisations is a common approach to encouraging local participation in NRM. Moreover, in studies on NRM devolution policies, community property rights are often seen as a potential option. What these studies do not bring to light, however, is how different types of property rights can be mixed and arranged through different layers in the organisational structures of grassroots organisations. This study responds to these gaps in the literature, and drawing on learning from three case studies in Quang Tri province, Vietnam. It employs a qualitative and participatory approach, involving semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, seasonal calendars, natural resource mapping and transect walks. The study’s findings highlight the dominance of the technocratic position in the roles played by induced forest-based grassroots groups. This results from the ambition of the Party-state to keep the rural population dependent on it, and the reluctance of international donors and INGOs, while operating within the current state structures, to use their leverage to effectively support grassroots organisations. The findings of the research also emphasise the need for induced grassroots organisational structures and property rights that combine village-wide, household-group and individual arrangements.
AuthorsTran, Binh Thi
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