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Does Decentralisation Meet the Needs of Local People? Implementing Land and Forestland Allocation in Two Local Communities, Lao PDR

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Thongphanh, Daovorn
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1772
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources--case studies
land tenure and use--case studies
forest policy--case studies
protected areas--case studies
shifting cultivation--case studies
livelihoods--case studies
Abstract: "The Land and Forestland Allocation Policy of Lao PDR has been in effect throughout the country since 1996. The two main aims of the policy are to increase land tenure security in order to encourage farmers involvement in intensive farming to result in more prosperous livelihoods, and to eliminate slash and burn cultivation in an attempt to protect natural resources and the environment. This paper examines the implementation of the policy in two communities, both of which are located along the foothills of Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area. After the Land and Forestland Allocation Policy banned shifting cultivation, intensive farming was required, and the traditional tenure system was replaced by one codified in law. Lands were zoned for agriculture activities and distributed to villagers according to traditional tenure. In order to retain tenure, villagers must show some agriculture activity or intensive development on the parcels within three years or the land will be returned to the state. This paper analyzes economic conditions, livelihoods, land use practices, and food security, and recommends that the ironic effect of farmers returning to protected forests in order to invest in the land they have received from the Land and Forestland Allocation Program is due to the fact that they are not secure with the rights they have gained to use this land. Until the Lao government gives villagers secure rights to agricultural and forestlands that cannot be revoked in three years, villagers will continue to engage in illegal activities on protected forests."

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