Skip to main content Accessibility help

Forest environmental income in Vietnam: household socioeconomic factors influencing forest use


Much research has focused on understanding the importance of forest environmental income in different communities and highlighting key socioeconomic characteristics of forest-dependent households. This paper examines the economic importance of forests among rural agriculturalists in Vietnam. Data were collected through a questionnaire survey of 104 households in five study villages in Ha Tinh province in north central Vietnam surrounding the Ke Go Nature Reserve (KGNR). Variables such as migration status of the household, age, income class and landholdings were used to identify characteristics of households with high forest income in both absolute and relative terms. More than half of households reported receiving forest environmental income in cash. Socioeconomic variables were compared between forest cash income (FCI) households and non-FCI households. Non-FCI households had more alternative income sources from wage labour and livestock, while FCI households were significantly younger, tended to live closer to the forest and had larger landholdings. Contrary to other research on forest use, the households deriving the most forest income in both absolute and relative terms were not the poorer households, but those in the middle class. These findings highlight the need for conservation and development projects to pay attention to the specific household factors that influence forest use, rather than relying on assumptions that poverty and forests are always linked.

Corresponding author
*Correspondence: Dr Pamela McElwee Tel: +1 480 727 0736 Fax: +1 480 727 8292 e-mail:
Hide All
Ambrose-Oji, B. (2003) The contribution of NTFPs to the livelihoods of the ‘forest poor’: evidence from the tropical forest zone of south-west Cameroon. International Forestry Review 5: 106117.
Angelsen, A. & Wunder, S. (2003). Exploring the Forest-Poverty Link: Key Concepts, Issues and Research Implications. Bogor, Indonesia: CIFOR.
Arnold, J.E.M. & Ruiz-Pérez, M. (2001) Can non-timber forest products match tropical forest conservation and development objectives? Ecological Economics 39: 437447.
AusAid (2002) Vietnam Poverty Analysis. Sydney, Australia: Australian Agency for International Development.
Belcher, B. (2005) Forest product markets, forests and poverty reduction. International Forestry Review 7: 8289.
Belcher, B., Ruiz-Pérez, M. & Achidiawan, R. (2005) Global patterns and trends in the use and management of commercial NTFPs: implication for livelihoods and conservation. World Development 33: 14351452.
Bista, S. & Webb, E.L. (2006) Collection and marketing of non-timber forest products in the far western hills of Nepal. Environmental Conservation 33: 244255.
Byron, R. & Arnold, M. (1999) What futures for the people of the tropical forests? World Development 27: 789805.
Cavendish, W. (2000) Empirical regularities in the poverty-environment relationship of rural households: evidence from Zimbabwe. World Development 28: 19792003.
Coomes, O.T., Barham, B.L. & Takasaki, Y. (2004) Targeting conservation-development initiatives in tropical forests: insights from analyses of rain forest use and economic reliance among Amazonian peasants. Ecological Economics 51: 4764.
Counsell, T. & Rice, S., eds. (1992) The Rainforest Harvest: Sustainable Strategies for Saving the Tropical Forests. London, UK: Friends of the Earth.
Quang, Dang Viet & Anh, Tran Nam (2006) Commercial collection of NTFPs and households living in or near the forests: case study in Que, Con Cuong and Ma, Tuong Duong, Nghe An, Vietnam. Ecological Economics 60: 6574.
de Merode, E., Homewood, K. & Cowlishaw, G. (2004) The value of bushmeat and other wild foods to rural households living in extreme poverty in Democratic Republic of Congo. Biological Conservation 118: 573581.
Department of Planning and Investment Ha Tinh (2003) Planning Atlas of Ha Tinh. Ha Tinh Province, Vietnam: Department of Planning and Investment.
Dove, M.R. (1993) A revisionist view of tropical deforestation and development. Environmental Conservation 20: 117.
Eames, J. (1996) Ke Go Nature Reserve. World Birdwatch 18: 68.
Fernandes, W. & Menon, G. (1987) Tribal Women and Forest Economy. New Delhi, India: Indian Social Institute.
Geertz, C. (1963) Agricultural Involution: The Processes of Ecological Change in Indonesia. Berkeley, CA, USA: University of California Press.
Gilmour, D.A. & San, N.V. (1999) Buffer Zone Management in Vietnam. Hanoi, Vietnam: IUCN.
Godoy, R. & Lubowski, R. (1992) Guidelines for the economic valuation of non-timber forest products. Current Anthropology 33: 424433.
Godoy, R., Brokaw, N. & Wilkie, D. (1995) The effect of income on the extraction of non-timber tropical forest products: model, hypotheses, and preliminary findings from the Sumu Indians of Nicaragua. Human Ecology 23: 2953.
Gram, S. (2001) Economic valuation of special forest products: an assessment of methodological shortcomings. Ecological Economics 36: 109117.
Gray, A. (1990) Indigenous peoples and the marketing of the rainforest. In: The Ecologist 20: 223227.
Gunatilake, H. (1998) The role of rural development in protecting tropical rainforests: evidence from Sri Lanka. Journal of Environmental Management 53: 273292.
Gunatilake, H.M., Senaratne, D.M.A.H. & Abeygunawardena, P. (1993) Role of non-timber forest products in the economy of peripheral communities of Knuckles National Wilderness Area of Sri Lanka: a farming systems approach. Economic Botany 47: 275281.
Hegde, R. & Enters, T. (2000) Forest products and household economy: a case study from Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Southern India. Environmental Conservation 27: 250259.
Hilfiker, K., Zingerli, C., Sorg, J.P. & Lothi, R. (2006) Market potential and resource management of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in the northern uplands of Vietnam. Schweizerische Zeitschrift fur Forstwesen 157: 4956.
Hughes, R. & Flintan, F. (2001) Integrating Conservation and Development Experience: A Review and Bibliography of the ICDP Literature. London, UK: IIED.
ICEM (2003) Vietnam National Report on Protected Areas and Development: Review of Protected Areas and Development in the Lower Mekong River Region. Indooroopilly, Queensland, Australia: The International Centre for Environmental Management.
Iqbal, M. (1993) International Trade of Non-Wood Forest Products: An Overview. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization.
Lacuna-Richman, C. (2002) The socio-economic significance of subsistence non-wood forest products in Leyte, Philippines. Environmental Conservation 29: 253262.
Lacuna-Richman, C. (2006) The use of non-wood forest products by migrants in a new settlement: experiences of a Visayan community in Palawan, Philippines. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2: 36.
Le Trong Trai, , Dung, N.H., Cu, N., Cham, L.V., Eames, J. & Chicoine, G. (1999) An Investment Plan for Ke Go Nature Reserve, Ha Tinh Province, Vietnam: A Contribution to the Management Plan. Hanoi, Vietnam: Birdlife International and the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute.
Mahapatra, A.K. & Tewari, D.D. (2005) Importance of non-timber forest products in the economic valuation of dry deciduous forests of India. Forest Policy and Economics 7: 455467.
Mamo, G., Sjaastad, E. & Vedeld, P. (2007) Economic dependence on forest resources: a case from Dendi District, Ethiopia. Forest Policy and Economics 9: 916927.
MARD (1997) Review report on planning, organization and management of special use forest. Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Marshall, E., Newton, A.C. & Schreckenberg, K. (2003) Commercialisation of non-timber forest products: first steps in analysing the factors influencing success. International Forestry Review 5: 128137.
McSweeney, K. (2002) Who is ‘forest-dependent’? Capturing local variation in forest-product sale, Eastern Honduras. Professional Geographer 54: 158174.
McSweeney, K. (2004) Forest product sale as natural insurance: the effects of household characteristics and the nature of shock in eastern Honduras. Society and Natural Resources 17: 3956.
Muller, D., Epprecht, M. & Sunderlin, W.D. (2006) Where are the Poor and Where are the Trees?: Targeting of Poverty Reduction and Forest Conservation in Vietnam. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Neumann, R.P. & Hirsch, E. (2000) Commercialisation of Non-Timber Forest Products: Review and Analysis of Research. Rome, Italy: CIFOR and FAO.
Pandit, B.H. & Thapa, G.B. (2003) A tragedy of non-timber forest resources in the mountain commons of Nepal. Environmental Conservation 30: 283292.
Rigg, J. (2006) Land, farming, livelihoods and poverty: rethinking the links in the rural South. World Development 34: 180202.
Ruiz-Pérez, M. & Arnold, J., eds (1996) Current Issues in Non-Timber Forest Products Research. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Ruiz-Pérez, M., Belcher, B., Achidiawan, R., Alexiades, M., Aubertin, C., Cabellero, J., Campbell, B., Clement, C., Cunningham, A., Fantini, A., de Forestra, H., Gracia Fernandez, C., Gautam, K., Martinez, P.H., de Jong, W., Kusters, K., Kutty, M.G., Lopez, C., Fu, M., Martinez Alfaro, M.A., Nair, T.K.R., Ndoye, O., Ocampo, R., Rai, N., Ricker, M., Schreckenberg, K., Shackleton, S., Shanley, P., Sunderland, T. & Youn, Y.C. (2004) Markets drive the specialization strategies of forest peoples. Ecology and Society 9:4 [www document]. URL
Sage, N. & Cu, Nguyen, eds (2001) A discussion paper on analysis of constraints and enabling factors of integrated conservation and development projects (ICDP) in Vietnam. Hanoi: ICDP Working Group and IUCN.
Salafsky, N. & Wollenberg, E. (2000) Linking livelihoods and conservation: a conceptual framework and scale for assessing the integration of human needs and biodiversity. World Development 28: 14211438.
Senaratne, A., Abeygunawardena, P. & Jayatilake, W. (2003) Changing role of non-timber forest products (NTFP) in rural household economy: the case of Sinharaja World Heritage site in Sri Lanka. Environmental Management 32: 559571.
Shackleton, C.M. & Shackleton, S.E. (2006) Household wealth status and natural resource use in the Kat River valley, South Africa. Ecological Economics 57: 306317.
Siebert, S.F. & Belsky, J. (1985) Forest product trade in a lowland Filipino Village. Economic Botany 39: 522533.
Sjaastad, E., Angelsen, A., Vedeld, P. & Bojo, J. (2005). What is environmental income? Ecological Economics 55: 3746.
SNV (2000) Proceedings of Integrated Conservation and Development Projects Lessons Learned Workshop. Hanoi, Vietnam: SNV, WWF and IUCN.
Sunderlin, W. & Ba, Huynh Thu (2005) Poverty Alleviation and Forests in Vietnam. Bogor, Indonesia: Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Sunderlin, W. (2006) Poverty alleviation through community forestry in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam: an assessment of the potential. Forest Policy and Economics 8: 386396.
Vedeld, P., Angelsen, A., Sjaastad, E., & Berg, G.K. (2004) Counting on the environment: forest incomes and the rural poor. Environmental Economics Series Paper No. 98. Washington DC, USA: The World Bank.
Vedeld, P., Angelsen, A., Bojo, J., Sjaastad, E. & Berg, G.K. (2007) Forest environmental incomes and the rural poor. Forest Policy and Economics 9: 869879.
Wetterwald, O., Zingerli, C. & Sorg, J.P. (2004) Non-timber forest products in Nam Dong District, Central Vietnam: Ecological and economic prospects. Schweizerische Zeitschrift fur Forstwesen 155: 4552.
Wickramasinghe, A., Perez, M.R. & Blockhus, J.M. (1996) Nontimber forest product gathering in Ritigala forest (Sri Lanka): household strategies and community differentiation. Human Ecology 24: 493519.
Wollenberg, E. (2000) Methods for estimating forest income and their challenges. Society and Natural Resources 13: 777795.
Wollenberg, E. & Ingles, A., eds. (1998) Incomes from the Forest: Methods for the Development and Conservation of Forest Products for Local Communities. Bogor, Indonesia: Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
World Bank (2001) Vietnam Living Standards Survey (VLSS), 1997–98: Basic Information. Washington DC, USA: Poverty and Human Resources Division, The World Bank.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed