Mekong Land Research Forum

The Mekong Land Research Forum seeks to bring research and policy a bit closer together. It does this in part by making the research more accessible and in part by helping to distill the key messages and points of debate so that information overload does not overwhelm policy makers and other advocates for progressive policy reform.

The Mekong Land Research Forum online site was developed in 2015 by a team at the University of Sydney, as part of an exercise carried out with the Mekong Region Land Governance program. This exercise also included the writing of country papers on the political economy of land governance in CambodiaLaosMyanmarVietnam, and one Regional overview paper. The Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development at Chiang Mai University manages the resource as part of the Mekong Land Research Forum. Further information on the Forum is available here. An application form to join our research network can be found here.

Mekong Land Research Forum Resources

Displaying 1 - 10 of 289

Falling Rubber Prices in Northern Laos: Local Responses and Policy Options

ABSTRACTED FROM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Rubber prices in northern Laos have fallen significantly over the last few years, eroding much of the enthusiasm developed by both farmers and government officials in the 1990s and early 2000s about rubber providing a way out of poverty for poor upland farmers.

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December 2016

Myanmar: Land Tenure Issues and the Impact on Rural Development

ABSTRACTED FROM THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Myanmar’s agricultural sector has for long suffered due to multiplicity of laws and regulations, deficient and degraded infrastructure, poor policies and planning, a chronic lack of credit, and an absence of tenure security for cultivators. These woes negate Myanmar’s bountiful natural endowments and immense agricultural potential, pushing its rural populace towards dire poverty. This review hopes to contribute to the ongoing debate on land issues in Myanmar.

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December 2015

Partial Land Rights and Agricultural Outcomes: Evidence from Thailand

To disentangle the issue concerning which dimensions of land rights, among security, tradability and pledgeability, affect agricultural outcomes, this paper exploits a unique partial land rights entitlement programme in Thailand, which guarantees only security, allows a limited access to credit, and prohibits any land sale. Based on an instrumental variable strategy, I find that the entitlement increases (1) second rice but not major rice productivity, (2) land use intensity, and leads to changes in (3) land use pattern, (4) land-related investment, and (5) better soil quality.

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December 2015

Shifting cultivation, livelihood and food security

PUBLISHER'S ABSTRACT: The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 September 2007. Since then, the importance of the role that indigenous peoples play in economic, social and environmental conservation through traditional sustainable agricultural practices has been gradually recognized.

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December 2015

The Formalization Fix? Land titling, state land concessions, and the politics of spatial transparency in contemporary Cambodia

In a widely read paper, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, World Bank and others propose systematic property rights formalization as a key step in addressing the problems of irresponsible agricultural investment. This paper examines the case of Cambodia, one of a number of countries where systematic land titling and large-scale land concessions have proceeded in parallel in recent years.

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December 2015

Cambodia: The Bitter Taste of Sugar Displacement and Dispossession in Oddar Meanchey Province

In 2008, three sugar companies were awarded nearly 20,000 hectares of Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) in Oddar Meanchey province. The new research finds that associated land grabbing totaling more than 17,000 hectares has affected more than 2,000 families. Of these, 214 families were forcibly evicted. Meanwhile, at least 3,000 hectares of the misappropriated land has been used for logging rather than sugar plantations, according to the report, ‘Cambodia: The Bitter Taste of Sugar’, commissioned by ActionAid and Oxfam GB.

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December 2015

Reworking the land: A review of literature on the role of migration and remittances in the rural livelihoods of Southeast Asia

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION: This paper reviews the literature on migration within and from rural areas of Southeast Asia to examine the effects of redistribution of labor and remittances on livelihoods and land-use practices, as well as contexts in which migration drives, yet is also driven by, social and environmental change. Gaps in the literature and areas of contention and debate are highlighted, informing an agenda for further research.

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December 2015

Commercial Agriculture Expansion in Myanmar: Links to Deforestation, Conversion Timber, and Land Conflicts

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION: An exclusive new analysis reveals that the Government of Myanmar has allocated at least 5.2 million acres and plans to allocate another 11 million acres of Southeast Asia’s last remaining biodiversity-rich high-value forests to make way for large-scale, private agribusiness projects that often never materialize. Many of these forest areas overlap with historical land claims made by Myanmar’s ethnic minority groups who will now permanently lose their land, further enflaming decades-old armed conflicts with the national government.

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December 2015

Trying to follow the money: Possibilities and limits of investor transparency in Southeast Asia's rush for "available" land

ABSTRACTED FROM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Half a decade into the global land rush, land-intensive investment throughout Southeast Asia continues to confront social and environmental issues such as land conflict and improperly regulated forest conversion. This study uses publicly available financial and spatial data to examine the geography of land-intensive investment in Southeast Asia, and to identify the limits imposed by problems with data availability.

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December 2015

The Cost of Luxury: Cambodia’s illegal trade in precious wood with China

This eight-month investigation recorded tonnes of rare timber being trucked out of Cambodia’s national parks and shipped to Hong Kong. Logging of luxury-grade timber is outlawed in Cambodia, and the global trade in Siamese Rosewood has been restricted since 2013, but Chinese demand for antique-style Hongmu furniture is increasing and the illegal trade has ballooned since the ban was announced. During months of interviews with loggers, state officials, police and activists, our investigators kept coming back to one man, who we’ve dubbed the 'King of Rosewood'.

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December 2015