This study will examine the political factors that drive how forest land is classified and allocated in the buffer zone surrounding Vietnam's Tam Dao national forest. The problems of forest protection and poverty alleviation are deeply intertwined in Vietnam, as much of the population dependent on forest resources is extremely poor. In an effort to combat both deforestation and poverty among forest users, Vietnam has been establishing protected forest areas and allocating other forest land to households, granting them various forms of use rights over this land. Numerous local government entities manage these processes and may have competing interests in how the land is classified and allocated. As household use rights are contingent upon this process of classification and allocation, this study asks: what factors drive forest land classification and allocation at the local level in Vietnam? The question of what these factors are is of central importance to questions of sustainable natural resource management and economic development.