Why Would Local Government Support Devolution? A Case Study in Dak Lak Province, Central Highlands, Vietnam

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"Much of the literature on devolution in natural resource management carries the implicit notion that local governments support devolution because it improves forest management and local livelihoods. Yet some authors have observed that local governments have proven reluctant to release control over valuable forest resources. This paper will contribute to this debate by taking a closer look at the role of local government in the process of Forest Land Allocation in Dak Lak, Vietnam. The results of in-depth field research demonstrate that devolution involves as much change in the relationships between different units of the local state as between the state and villagers. Devolution affects the distribution of authority and resources between different state units at local, district, and provincial levels. It also affects the work routines and tasks of state employees, and requires them to revise significantly long-held beliefs about forest management and the relationship between forests and local people. Local state units therefore react to Forest Land Allocation in different ways. Devolution has a chance to succeed only if it receives support by a sufficiently strong alliance of state actors in favor of devolution."
IASC, forestry, forest management, governance and politics, devolution, state and local governance