Community Forest Management (CFM) & Community Based Forest Management (CBFM): Two Governance Models


In Vietnam and worldwide, widespread forest degradation from illicit timber harvesting, forest land conversion and poor forest management practices, is leading to increased carbon emissions, which threatens the environment, communities, and livelihoods. Despite national increases in overall tree coverage, Vietnam’s natural forests are reducing in area and worsening in quality. From 2020-2025, the USAID Sustainable Forest Management Project (the Project) is linking communities, local authorities, the national government, and the private sector to jointly address the drivers of forest conversion and degradation in targeted areas. The Project aims to avoid carbon emissions from natural forest conversion and degradation; increase carbon sequestration through better management of plantation forests; and improve the quality, diversity, and productivity of natural production forests– all to protect Vietnam’s threatened forest resources.

The Challenge

The Government of Vietnam has allocated about four million hectares (ha) of forests (or 27% of national forests) to residential communities and households. However, these communities and individuals often lack adequate capacity or incentives to apply sustainable forest management practices to manage, use and protect the land. The forest allocation/forest land allocation (FA/FLA) process to households and communities started in the 1990s, but only since 2017 has Vietnam’s Forestry Law legally recognized communities as one of the seven types of legal forest owners. Yet, this process of allocating land to communities was not paired with proper technical capacity building programs nor with the provision of support policies, such as community forest management (CFM) guidelines to enable them to properly exercise their official role as ‘forest owners.’ Most community-managed forests do not receive any Payments for Environmental Services (PFES), or management fees, and worse, much of the forest land allocated to communities and households is degraded and fragmented forests, offering little apparent value to its owners. Without enabling policies nor the technical capacity to implement forest management practices, households and community-managed forests remain poorly managed and at risk for continued deforestation and degradation.

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