I am Viet and I come from Vietnam. I am doing a PhD with MBC and the School of Language. The focus of my research is to analyse the relationship between sacred forests and ethnic minority groups in Vietnam. Specifically, two objectives are identified: 1) the knowledge in preferences of forest values across different ethnic minority groups; and 2) inter-group comparability of preferences. I chose this topic for a couple of reasons. I am concerned by the threats to sacred places, in particular sacred forests which are globally important, but largely unrecognized. In Vietnam, sacred forests are often small and ignored and they are not considered important by the government as protected areas, but they are important to ethnic minority people. Also, having worked and accumulated experience in the field of forest management alongside local people in Vietnam for almost 15 years, I strongly believe this research will help raise the voice of indigenous people in Vietnam.
I hope to develop greater understanding of forest values of different groups of society and the diversity in their preferences. More importantly, the research will academically benefit in supporting global sustainable forest management, which calls for moving away from the timber-based commodities to the space of forest ecosystem attributes that contribute, through their aesthetic, spiritual, ecological, and other non-timber values. I hope that a greater understanding values of sacred forests of different ethnic minority groups will lead to the resolution of conflicts making forest management systems in Vietnam more effective and more favourable in practice. This is crucially significant when there are thousands of customary forests across the country that are under collective management by ethnic minority communities. Also, Vietnam is a country with 25 million people comprising 54 groups of are heavily dependent to forests for their livelihoods and cultural conservation.
As my research is based on the Macmillan Brown Centre was a natural fit with its on understanding of the people, societies, cultures, environment and resources of the greater pacific. The topic is about relationship between indigenous people and forest in Vietnam, which is similar to the relationship between Maori people and forests, which is one of research focuses of the Macmillan Brown Centre. Extensively, my research has the potential to undertake transnational research related to the topic of sacred natural sites generally and sacred forests in particular. In this regard, it is possible to propose a future research about comparative studies indigenous people in Vietnam and Maori people in New Zealand regarding relationship with forests. Consistently, cultural exchanges will result to.