chapter  6
Forest land allocation and deforestation processes in the uplands
Pages 16

Two thirds of the Vietnamese territory is mountainous, with this area characterised by a large portion of steep slopes and soils subject to erosion, some of which was previously covered by rich tropical forests. Nineteen million hectares, or 58 per cent of the territorial area, is still classified by central planning authorities as forest. This is, however, an administrative classification: only 8.3 million ha, or 25 per cent of the land area, is covered by forests (Table 6.1) while the remainder (10.7 million ha) is, in fact, bare land (Nguyen Van Dang 1997). A large part of the Vietnamese population, estimated to be 9.4 million inhabitants or 13 per cent of the entire population, still depends directly on the use of forest resources and the management of sloping land in mountainous areas (Rambo et al. 1995). The future of these mountain dwellers is threatened by the continuous degradation of forest land. Annual deforestation has been evaluated equal to 137 000 ha. The poor and marginal people, mainly members of the 54 ethnic minorities living in Vietnam, are particularly exposed to the negative impacts of this process (Smith 1998).