Resource Details

Reforesting “bare hills” in Vietnam: Social and environmental consequences of the 5 million hectare reforestation program

Literature: Journal Articles

McElwee, P. 2009. Reforesting “bare hills” in Vietnam: Social and environmental consequences of the 5 million hectare reforestation program. Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment, vol. 38 no. 6, pp. 325-333.

Contact Info

Corresponding author:


Arizona State University


Available at Ambio


  • This article addressed the 5 million hectare reforestation program “bare hills” reforestation program in Vietnam.
  • Forest cover in Vietnam has risen from 28% of total land (in 1990) to more than 38% by 2005. While some of this expansion has occurred through expansion of protected areas, a large amount has come from the government funded 5 million hectare reforestation program. Reforestation has favored monoculture plantations - in 2005, plantations had been established on 1.4 million ha and 0.7 million ha were undergoing natural regeneration.
  • This study examined local forests and livelihoods in a province in north central coastal Vietnam.
  • Researchers found that 88% of surveyed households harvested plants or animals from the bare hills, and that 57% received income from products from the bare hills, totaling an average of 18% of household income.
  • The most important plants derived from the bare hills were fruits, medicinal plants, fuel wood, and grasses used for brooms. The hills were also important areas for buffalo and cattle pasture. Women and poor families were particularly dependent on the bare hills.
  • Few households had official forest land allocated to them by the tree planting program, making it difficult to receive government reforestation funding. Households that received reforestation funding were often the wealthier households.
  • Author concludes that the 5 million hectares reforestation program could have significant social impacts by restricting forest access for poor households and perhaps even encouraging further expansion of fuel wood collection into natural forests.

Geographical Region

  • Mainland Southeast Asia
  • Ecosystems

  • General
  • Country

  • Vietnam
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