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Balancing forest conservation and local livelihoods at the 2nd LIA Workshop in Huế City

Balancing forest conservation and local livelihoods at the 2nd LIA Workshop in Huế City1

Deforestation and illegal timber use is an increasingly important trade issue in Vietnam, particularly due to climate change issues. Rapid agricultural and urban development has diminished centuries old forests and raised significant concerns about rising CO2 levels. However many people’s livelihoods and traditional and ethnic ways of life are dependent on their use of the forest and their wood products. As part of the ongoing dialogue surrounding recent forestry legislation and agreements, SRD, as the chair of the Vietnamese Non-Governmental Organisations Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Network (VNGO-FLEGT) hosted a second Livelihood Impact Assessment Workshop from September 24 to 26, 2013 in Huế City. The workshop was supported by FERN and funded by DFID.

The event called for participants to review the activities of the first workshop and share research around the livelihood impacts on stakeholders such as small households, and ethnic minorities as well as analyze forestry institutions. Over 40 participants from the VNGO-FLEGT network members, UNDP, stakeholders, agencies from Huế. The participatory program was carried out over two and a half days, as studies of stakeholders, Livelihood Impact Assessments and transmission channels were presented, and research and issues were discussed in small group sessions and activities.

Balancing forest conservation and local livelihoods at the 2nd LIA Workshop in Huế City2
The participatory format ensured that many local partners, organizations and communities had the opportunity to share feedback and generate new ideas for potential impacts of VPA to livelihoods of forest-independent communities. There is concern that increased regulation and agreements such as the Voluntary Partnership Agreements will create obvious winners and losers. As a result, a major goal of the workshops is to create mechanisms to monitor the positive and negative socioeconomic impacts of regulations and agreements on stakeholder livelihoods.

The process of formalizing and legislating VPAs combined with the stricter enforcement of existing laws and regulations could have strong consequences for people whose livelihoods were previously dependent on “illegal” foresting such as furniture makers and people who built traditional woodcrafts. The VPA process and its implementation will inevitably result in winners and losers and will contribute to a range of positive and negative social and economic consequences. To better understand the impacts of the VPAs, the first “Livelihood Impacts Assessment (LIA) of Vietnam’s VPA – Inception Workshop” workshop was organized in March 2013.

This second workshop was an important follow up to the first LIA workshop, which focused on developing an action plan to build Livelihood Impact Assessment approaches into the VPA process and to monitor the results and to research and analyze institutions and stakeholders. Since the initial workshop, network members have focused their research on four key themes:
(i) A stakeholder analysis of production forestry households who do not have Red Book certificates;
(ii) A stakeholder analysis of woodcraft village househols, who may use quality imported timber and/or domestic timber sources;
(iii) Ethnic minority households whose livelihoods are based on the utilization of forest land and forest products, and
(iv) A general Institutional Analysis.

Other goals discussed included impact monitoring, building understanding of LIA, testing the LIA approach and ensuring that it is both replicable and portable for use in other countries, the UN Program for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and building capacity for the approach.

As a result of this important workshop, the dialogue will continue to build the capacity of NGOs and government organizations to ensure that deforestation initiatives respect the delicate balance between conservation and the livelihoods of local people. This workshop allowed for local civil society networks to assess the progress generated for the initial initiatives and to ensure that forest dependent communities continue to actively participate in dialogues and recognize the channels of communication that are available. The second workshop ensured that progress will continue to be made in incorporating and sharing Livelihood Impact Assessments in future projects and policies.
Additional information about the FLEGT/VPA process in Vietnam and international experiences can be found via the loggingoff website (http://loggingoff.info/) or the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Forest Sector Support Partnership website (http://www.vietnamforestry.org.vn/).


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