Poverty alleviation through community forestry in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam: An assessment of the potential uri icon


  • Among various theoretical preconditions for successful poverty alleviation through community forestry, this article focuses on two: (1) the degree to which poverty alleviation is a guiding force in the establishment and implementation of community forestry; and (2) the compatibility of government commitment to poverty alleviation through community forestry with other goals being pursued by the government. How do the three case study countries perform with respect to these preconditions?
  • Introduced (as compared to traditional) models of community forestry have developed rapidly in Cambodia and Laos in the last decade, and were recently begun in Vietnam after a pilot phase. What is the potential of these community forestry models to deliver livelihood improvements to participants? This is an important question for two reasons. First, some donors are placing high hopes on community forestry to support poverty alleviation in the Mekong Region. Second, community forestry has generally under-performed in poverty alleviation worldwide. Existing and planned models must be examined to understand to what extent they can fulfill their goals and how they can be improved.
  • The article recommends three core policies to fully realize the potential of poverty alleviation through community forestry: (1) control illegal logging and forest sector corruption; (2) locate community forestry sites where there are abundant forests; and (3) boost forest income through improved access rights, tenure, and benefit sharing, and removal of anti-poor regulations. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • With respect to the first precondition, it is found that although all three country programs now espouse poverty alleviation as a key goal, other state goals (e.g., compliance with donor organization recommendations, decentralization, devolution, resource conservation) were the guiding motivations in the establishment and early implementation of the programs.
  • With respect to the second precondition, programs in all three countries are at least partly undermined by a tendency to favor government, the military, and concessionaires in the appropriation of timber rents, and to exclude people living in or near forests from access to these rents. However in each country there are factors that potentially enable a turn toward poverty alleviation through community forestry. In Cambodia there is less central government control than in Laos or Vietnam. Laos has a high level of forest resources per capita. Vietnam has an exceptionally strong record in poverty alleviation that can be linked to its emerging community forestry program.

publication date

  • 2006
  • 2006
  • 2006