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Doctoral thesis, 2009

Farmers and forest land use in Lao PDR and Vietnam

Ohlsson, Bo


People’s use of the forest land for shifting cultivation has over the last 50 years altered the upland landscape in Laos and Vietnam. The objective of the thesis was to develop interdisciplinary approaches and methods to document, analyse and understand the use of forest land over this time. A second objective was to relate land use trends to local, national and global developments. Specific objectives were to explain and understand the observed status and changes of forest land use and the society. An interdisciplinary approach and methodology was used, including the Holling’s adaptive cycle. In different case studies the forest land use was documented and analysed, using a mix of social and natural science methods. Policy, strategy and legislation has been studied and related to the actual development. In two of those studies, a stable system evolved, to be challenged around 1990, due to the emergence of market reforms. In the third case study, in Vietnam, the transformation of natural forest and vegetation to private, farmbased plantation forestry, via shifting cultivation, over a thirty year period, was documented and analysed. In a fourth study, the development of plantation forestry in Laos was analysed in the context of globalisation. In both countries, a substantial amount of the forest land has been used for food production. In spite of severe internal and external influences, the communities have managed to sustain themselves without any significant livelihood changes. Through the penetration of globalization, in terms of land privatization, emerging market economy and improved communications, the villages were exposed to a new situation which could not be addressed by their traditional livelihood. In the Lao study, the farmers responded in different ways, from embracing the market economy to expanding already known and tested production or by avoidance. The case study on farm based plantation forestry in an uptake area of a major forest industry in Vietnam, indicates that the reasons for this development was the emergence of a market; supportive and dynamic policies, institutions and legal framework and tenure systems, and most important, the existence of professional farmers.


forest land; land use; forestry production; forestry policies; viet nam; lao

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2009, number: 2009:18
ISBN: 9789186195656
Publisher: Dept. of Forest Resource Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Ohlsson, Bo
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

URI (permanent link to this page)