The Prime Minister has roved a pilot project aimed at engaging the local community in protection, management and development of forests.

Decision 126, which took effect on Feb. 2 run until the end of 2013.

The project will first be implemented in the 7,100ha Xuan Thuy National Park in northern Nam Dinh povince and the 37,500ha Bach Ma National Park in central Thua Thien-Hue province, which are considered to play an important role in the conservation of the nation's biodiversity.

Under the decision, the local community, which includes households and individuals legally residing within the two forests or their buffer zones, will be permitted to grow trees and raise animals, with the permission of the parks' management.

Local residents will be offered training in the protection, conservation and sustainable development of forests.

The local community in turn must join forces with the park's management board in preventing the illegal exploitation of forestry land.

Nguyen Viet Cach, director of Xuan Thuy National Park , said thousands of people havellegally exploited the natural resources of the forest for years.

"Many people earned considerable profits but they also caused unhealthy competition and damage to the forest," Cach said.

He said the Prime Minister's decision willlp put an end to the chaotic situation as people will have to register to exploit the forest's natural resources and pay fees.

The pilot programme will be the basis for the development of a legal framework for the joint management of forests by management boards and local people in a sustainable way.

The local community's interests will be represented by a management committee, which will act as the common legal representative. It will consist of at least five members representing the forest management board, local community, forest protection department and the local People's Committee./.