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Accueil du site > Equipes de Recherche > Dynamiques foncières dans le district de Sing, province de Luang Namtha, RDP du Laos > Conclusions and policy implications

Conclusions and policy implications

While our study has shown increased population density in the lowlands, and increased commercialisation of agricultural production, what are the consequences of these changes on community land and resource use practices ?

One of the obvious consequences is the increased pressure on land use in the lowland areas. Over the years, agricultural land in the lowland has become scarce due to increased population and their needs for productive land. In order to ease the pressure, a transition towards more intensive and productive use of land is necessary. However, this may be achieved by socially marginalizing the migrant population as they become entrenched in agricultural wage labour relationships.

Increased competition over land is also raising conflicts between villages over access to communal resources. While villages shared resource use in the past, increased commercialisation of agricultural production and the population pressure has induced competition over land. Communal resources, which allowed members of different villages to share in the past, are particularly subject of conflict as resource users began to claim their legitimate rights. The problem was particularly pertinent in Oudomxin and Namdet Mai, which used to share land and forest in the past with other neighbouring villages. While village boundary delineated village boundary of Oudomxin in 1997, Namdet Mai continues to encroach into the forest area in Oudomxin, which is now a village commons under the management of Oudomxin village. However, people of Namdet Mai also claim their customary rights to the land, and have been clearing fallow lands into sugarcane and rubber production.

The expansion of rubber production is also affecting land tenure in the villages. Areas, which were reserved by families, are increasingly converted into rubber fields. While in the past, resource access on reserved land was unrestricted, conversion of such land into permanent rubber field strengthens private ownership of land. Furthermore, conversion into rubber field resulted in extermination of a range of food and other items collected in the forest. This particularly affects poor households in the village whose livelihood basis depended on the use of such natural products.

While government policies such as the land and forest allocation was intended to improve the sustainable use and management of resources in each village, the rapid demographic and economic changes in the last decade is overwriting the local resource management plans. This relates to the lack of continuous process to plan and manage resources at the village level following the land and forest allocation. The lack of systematic follow up by the district agriculture and forestry officers after the implementation of the land and forest allocation further leaves little motivation for the local villagers to continue resource management.