Old teak forests poisoned, dying day by day

VietNamNet Bridge – Tens of hectares of teak forests which are tens of years old in Dong Nai province have been killed. Meanwhile, the local authorities still turn a deaf ear to the problem.

The old trees in the areas, which all have the diameter of 20-30 meters and the length of tens of meters, have died in a special way. Bad guys shaved the trunks to create the ditches, into which they poured poison, thus killing the trees in masses.

Local residents said the deforestation has been occurring for a long time. At least 60 hectares out of the 122 hectares of forests have been killed or have turned into the cultivated areas. A lot of forest land areas have been cleared for building houses.

Thien Nhien reporters have estimated that about 20,000 teak trees have been killed. Since the trees have died, local farmers have flocked to the areas, appropriated land plots, where they grow cashew trees, grains or bananas.

Therefore, the visitors to areas may feel surprised when seeing the cashew, coffee gardens in the forests, which have been growing next to the rotten teak trees.

An officer of the Tan Phu district’s preventive forest management board said the movement of killing teak trees began in 1992. At first, local farmers only killed tens of trees to clear land for cultivation. But the number of killed trees has been increasing rapidly. Thousands of trees have been poisoned so far, while the local authorities still keep quiet.

An officer of the forest ranger unit in the Gia Canh commune said that local farmers would attack state officers if the officers try to prevent them.

He related that some days ago, when a group of officers came to the ward No. 83 to remove a house which was built illegally on the forest land area, a bad guy driving a motorbike rushed into the group of officers. When they shot into the air, they had to fight against tens of men who tried to attack them with knives, sticks and hammers.

Nowadays, in order to prevent the deforestation, the Tan Phu district’s forest ranger unit has to put the mobile force and police dogs on the duty. A lot of violators have been arrested and prosecuted, but this still cannot help ease the situation, because the 17 month jail sentence is not strict enough to deter them.

Meanwhile, the local authorities have got puzzled in dealing with the problem. Dang Hong Tang, Deputy Director of the Dong Nai provincial Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that teak woods have been harmed, because local residents want the state to allocate forest land to them to serve the agricultural production.

Therefore, he said, the local authorities have proposed the provincial authorities to speed up the allocation of forest land to farmers. If so, farmers would have land for production, while they would devote themselves to the forest protection.

Reporters have found out that before the teak woods were harmed, 130 households in Gia Canh commune, who had been cultivating on the forest land, sent a petition, requesting to grant the land use right certificates (red books). The people said they have been cultivating on the land for the last many years, while they keep paying tax every year.

However, the Dong Nai provincial People’s Committee has rejected the petition for many reasons.

Thien Nhien
Vietnam, forest, teak, land, deforestation