Community engagement in natural conservation in Ha Giang
Project" Impacts of Khau Ca Species and Habitat Conservation Area Establishment on the Livelihoods of Local People - An assessment from the community perspective" was supported by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (EPF) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and implemented by the Center for Conservation and Development of Water Resources (WARECOD) with cooperation of the People's Committee of Bac Me District, Minh Son Commune People's Committee of Bac Me district from April to December 2016.

The research applied Thai Baan method which put local community at the center of the work and villagers acted as the main researchers. The application of this method helped effectively mobilize local  knowledge and practical experience. It helped community document their local knowledge in a systematic way, and at the same time, to improve their knowledge and capacity through the research process.

With the enthusiastic participation and responsibility of the local community group, the research has clarified various impacts caused by the establishment of the Khau Ca Reserve on people's livelihoods and production such as reduction in crop yields, increase in livestock and crop diseases, and lack of farming land, etc.   In addition to identifying the impacts, the local community group have actively discussed about their adaptive measures, benefits of conservation,  and then communicated about conservation through village meetings and sharing in meetings organized by mass organizations (Women's Union, Farmers' Association, Veterans Association, Youth Union, etc.).

At the end of the project, villagers were able to tell their stories and document their knowledge via pictures they drew themselves. They also composed songs in the Dao language telling about the influence of the project and the awareness of the people. The lyric of the song is: "In the past, forest trees and wildlife were abundant, people went into the forest to exploit and trap wild animals, since the project staff came to work, they understood the importance of forest and wildlife protection and stopped going to the forest for exploiting and hunting, etc.".

The success of the project is a good example of work in promoting more active  and effective participation of local community in conservation of natural resources not only in Bac Me, Ha Giang but also in the whole  Lo-Gam river basin area.

By Ngoc Khac

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