Swidden cultivation practices have been seen as a major driver of deforestation and forest degradation in Southeast Asia. Using two case studies from Vietnam, this paper examines discourses around swidden practices at multiple levels of governance. Our findings show diverse interpretations of swidden resulting in different policy preferences and policy translations when addressing the issue. At national level, swidden is blamed as a principal driver of deforestation and forest degradation, and as such is a practice to be eliminated. As a result of this national stance, provincial level authorities see the existence of swidden as a failure by which their political performance will be judged. Conversely, swidden communities are seen at district level as an innovative solution to help resource-limited police forces ensure national security in border areas. Local commune and village leaders view swidden as a traditional practice to be respected, so as to maintain harmonious relationships amongst social groups, and avoid ethnic groups protesting against the government. Such differences in discourses and political interests have led to swidden becoming an ‘invisible’ issue, with government authorities failing to collect and report on data. Not recognizing swidden also means that swidden actors are practically ‘forgotten’ in the design and implementation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES). Their omission from forest conservation and management incentive programmes could lead to further social marginalization, and potentially result in deforestation and forest degradation in the area. Our findings suggest that REDD+ policies should take into account diverging political interests on controversial land uses such as swidden cultivation.
Research news | 2018-07-10
The World in 2050 initiative launches new report outlining synergies and benefits that render the goals achievable
Educational news | 2018-07-02
LEAP our leadership programme designed for changemakers that want to lead social-ecological transformations to sustainability. Application deadline is 5 August 2018.
Research news | 2018-06-27
Overfishing, fractured international relationships and political conflicts loom as fish migrate more unpredictably because of climate change. Here is how to deal with it
Research news | 2018-06-26
Profit-maximizing approaches are most likely to produce outcomes that harm people or the environment. But it depends on the circumstances whether a sustainable or a safe approach is most suitable, new study argues
General news | 2018-06-20
Will lead a redesign of the organisational structure at the centre
Research news | 2018-06-20
New book chapter looks into the economic, cultural and ecological reasons why some people leave the fisheries and aquaculture sector, and what could be done to reverse the trend