Payments for environmental services as neoliberal market-based forest conservation in Vietnam: Panacea or problem?

Pamela D. McElwee
2012 Geoforum  
Recently in Vietnam, a coalition of international NGOs, donors and government officials have been promoting market-based forest conservation projects in the form of payments for environmental services (PES) as a win-win for both conservation and development objectives; Vietnam is now the first country in Southeast Asia with a national law on PES. This article provides a macro survey of how market-based instruments for forest conservation have expanded in Vietnam, particularly in relation to a
more » ... ng dominant state sector. Yet an assessment of Vietnam's PES pilot projects indicates that they do not follow predicted orthodox "neoliberalization of nature" approaches in their use of market instruments, particularly in regards to privatization, retreat of the state, and capitalization of commodities. The article explores how it is that a strong state role in forest management can continue to dominate even in more market-oriented approaches. Finally, the article analyzes PES's potential for success or failure in tackling the underlying causes for forest degradation. Ultimately, the article argues that PES is likely to be unable to tackle several of the key underlying causes for deforestation, namely, uneven land tenure and a lack of participation by local communities in conservation, given that PES is unlikely to be considerably different than past attempts at forest management.
doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.04.010 fatcat:wpcy7vd2nza3pmccfizs3niepa