Ethnic minorities in the mountainous forest regions of northern Thailand and northern Vietnam live in a particularly restrictive political, social and economic environment. Widespread degradation of land, water and forest resources has adverse effects on the livelihoods of these groups. Given the dramatically increasing scarcity of natural resources, regulation of resource access and allocation are becoming fundamental for the development of sustainable resource management, in which an active participation of the local population in planning and implementation is a crucial prerequisite. In this article, the political and institutional framework of current resource policies and resulting conflicts are discussed for the two countries. Drawing on various case studies, typical land and water tenure conflicts are presented and their impact on the protection and use of natural resources and on the livelihoods of ethnic minorities is analyzed.
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The purpose of the Mekong Land Research Forum online site is to provide structured access to published and unpublished research on land issues in the Mekong Region. It is based on the premise that debates and decisions around land governance can be enhanced by drawing on the considerable volume of research, documented experience and action-based reflection that is available.