WOMEN AND FORESTS

by Nguyen Bich Ngoc


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M’nong ethnic people who are involving in forest protection program

We visited a natural stream with a very beautiful landscape in Phuoc Hoa commune, Phuoc Son district in Quang Nam province, Central Vietnam in March 2016. Water is very clean and cold during hot period. Visitors were exciting because they could swim, have food and enjoy the fresh atmosphere inside the forest. A local forest ranger introduced us that this tourism site is organized by his colleague at the forest management board of Dak mi watershed where many hydropower dams have been built. We were surprised because of the beauty of the stony stream and forests surrounding.

Before that the trip to this stream, we met four women who are involving in the group of 10 households protecting forests under the program of payment for forest environmental service. They are M’nong ethnic people. This group was established in 2014 by the Dak Mi forest management board to get them involved in protecting forests in the watershed of Dak Mi hydropower dam. The team leader of this group is a man. This group received 150 hectares of forest to protect. Each month, the group earned VND3 million from the provincial fund of forest protection and development. This money comes from the payment of hydropower companies in the area.

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Music performance by the women at the ceremony of signing contracts in PFES

We talked with women in the group and see that they are very confident in their involvement of the program. They collaborated with men in the group to check illegal forest loggings and report to the forest management board in the commune. The forests they are protecting are quite far from their houses, and therefore they have to go there by motorbike and electricity boats since a part of forests is locating in other sides of hydropower reservoirs.

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Payment for local people

In their families, women and their husband arranged their time to alternatively participate in the patrolling activities of the group. One woman said that we discussed with men in the group to allocate responsibilities as strong points of men and women. Women often go with men to prepare water, foods for the team, while men usually carry heavy equipments to protect the boundary of the forest.

Other women said that protecting forests is very important because hydropower plants can have enough water, they can earn significant money from payment for forest environmental service. When forests are well-protected, they can exploit rattan, leaves for making hats, and asking local authorities to harvest some timber to build their houses. Each woman can earn VND 300,000 per month that is enough to pay for a child’s school fee per month.

A group of households confirmed that they have not seen illegal forest loggings any more when they carried out many forest patrolling in the area. The involvement of women in the forest protection has helped them become more confident, and they can negotiate with men equitably and in collaborative ways. We see the positive impacts of the payment for forest environmental services to women today.

A group of households confirmed that they have not seen illegal forest loggings any more when they carried out many forest patrolling in the area. The involvement of women in the forest protection has helped them become more confident, and they can negotiate with men equitably and in collaborative ways. We see the positive impacts of the payment for forest environmental services to women today.Addition to participating in protecting forests, women in Phuoc Hoa commune also involve in many other agricultural activities. Ho Thi Sau, a woman at 30 years old, said:

“I have 1000m2 of upland rice and it yields about 300kg rice a year. I also have 1000 trees of Acacia forest but I have not sold these trees since they have just been planted for two years. I go to forests to harvest rattan, leaves for making hats, and working for Acacia forest owners as well to earn money. Each year I can save about VND3 million (USD150) but I had to spend it for health care. My family loaned VND38 million (about USD2000) to invest in forest plantation and paying for daily foods”.

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Villager meetings at the community house to discuss about the PFES program

Other women also said that they are working the same activities and their land and income are quite similar each other. Generally, they do not have enough land, food, and jobs to sustain their daily life. They are expecting very much on the support of outsiders.


Header image credit: CIFOR
http://www.cifor.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/24332758466_8c7da2425e_k.jpg.