Reforesting "bare hills" in Vietnam: social and environmental consequences of the 5 million hectare reforestation program

Ambio. 2009 Sep;38(6):325-33. doi: 10.1579/08-r-520.1.


In recent years, forestry has been strongly promoted by the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam through large-scale projects to rehabilitate and reforest millions of hectares of land. One project to reforest 5 million hectares has received hundreds of millions of US dollars for implementation. Yet based on a case study in one area of northern Vietnam, this project appears to have had a number of unforeseen consequences. Large areas of land classified as "bare hills" have been targeted for reforestation, despite the fact that these lands already harbor a number of species that were used by local communities. The bare hills were especially economically important to poor households and to women who collected a variety of nontimber forest products there. Because the reforestation project focused most efforts on establishing new plantations rather than supporting natural regeneration, diverse sources of non-timber forest products were being replaced with monocrop exotic tree plantations. A strong inequity in the allocation of private lands for reforestation has characterized the regreening projects to date, and this may have continuing unwelcome social, environmental, and economic impacts into the future, particularly for the poor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Data Collection
  • Ecology*
  • Forestry*
  • Humans
  • Ownership
  • Poverty
  • Private Sector
  • Program Evaluation
  • Rural Population
  • Social Environment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Trees / growth & development*
  • Vietnam