Forest devolution in Vietnam: From rhetoric to performance

Thi Kim Phung Dang*, I.J. Visseren-Hamakers, B.J.M. Arts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper discusses the performance of forest devolution, the major reform in forestry in developing countries over the last two decades. Although this change in forest governance has been studied by many scholars, the impacts of forest devolution and the various ways to measure them are still under discussion. This paper contributes to this discussion by evaluating the performance of a specific forest devolution policy, namely, forest land allocation (FLA) in Vietnam. The study is based on the policy arrangement approach to operationalize the
concept of ‘governance performance,’ and particularly focuses on the local people’s involvement in the policy. Overall, our findings from three regions of Vietnam reveal a medium governance performance for FLA. The main
explanation for this performance is the tradeoffs between the two key policy goals: forest rehabilitation and to increase local income. These tradeoffs are shaped by various factors, namely, the strategic use of forest rights by
target groups, social learning by state and nonstate actors, and unanticipated effects on the ground.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-774
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Forest devolution
  • Forest land allocation
  • Governance performance
  • Policy arrangement approach
  • Vietnam


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