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This study aims to understand the current situation of forest protection in Cat Tien National Park and the livelihoods of the people in village 4, Ta Lai commune, Tan Phu district, Dong Nai province. To achieve this objective, methods were drawn from Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), in-depth interview, and observation to collect data. This was complemented with a household survey covering a sample size of 150 households (50: Kinh; 50: Stieng; 50: Chau Ma) with the objective of identifying the relationship between Cat Tien National Park and the livelihoods of the people. Besides, discussions with stakeholders involved with the park were conducted to elicit their views and concerns on forest protection and conservation.

The results of the study show that forest protection and conservation of Cat Tien National Park is indeed a difficult issue because of the poverty of people in the buffer zone. The balancing conservation and livelihoods remains an ardent process. It was found that there are major differences between people groups in the study site related to ethnicity. The indigenous people (Chau Ma and Stieng) were found to enter the park more often than the Kinh people as livelihood still largely depends on the natural resources of the park. The education level of indigenous people remains low, so the training on production technology to develop the agricultural sector is not effective. In addition, subsidies to indigenous people have created the psychological effect of “heavy reliance to others” behaviour, and this should be viewed as a big barrier for poverty reduction.

This study also found that to maintain the value of biodiversity in Cat Tien National Park requires the co-operation of stakeholders, especially the co-operation between local people and staff of the park at all stages in the management process. In addition, the integrated conservation and development project aimed to improve local people’s livelihoods in the buffer zone is considered the way to share benefits and reduce the conflict of interests between stakeholders. Interestingly, local people would like to get involved in sustainable use of forest products in the park. Lastly, it was found that initially local communities need some external support to develop the internal factors, but later, that must be translated into strengths for them to find the best way out of poverty and to achieve sustainable livelihoods in the near future.


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