Over 3,000ha of forests lost in 2012, says conference

VietNamNet Bridge – Viet Nam lost more than 3,000ha of its forest cover in 2012, a year-end review conference heard last week.

Quang Nam Province strengthens inspection of illegal logging

The People's Committee of the central province of Quang Nam plans to crack down on illegal logging and associated trades in forest resources.

People's Committee vice chairman Nguyen Ngoc Quang said the campaign involved a variety of forest protection activities.

The first round of inspections will run from January 20 to February 20, targeting illegal logging and mining and those who transport the smuggled goods. The following round from February 21 to March 31 will focus on preventing prospective loggers from transporting machinery and equipment into forested areas.

Districts have been instructed to make lists of hotspots for authorities to concentrate on.

Checkpoints will also be set up to detect and punish those involved in these activities.

In the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau, a similar effort has been made to clamp down on rare earth extraction. Yesterday, the vic e chairman of Tam Duong District's People's Committee announced that his district had seized 300 tonnes of rare earth illegally extracted by residents in Ban Hon Commune.

Local authorities had earlier set up checkpoints on main roads and persuade local people make commitment not to get involved in illegal mining activities.

The General Forestry Department, which held the conference, said 27,671 violations of forest protection laws were discovered nationwide last year.

This included 5,724 cases of deforestation, 13,550 cases involving illegal transportation of forestry products, 905 wood processing violations and 928 cases of wildlife hunting and trading.

"Around 3,225 hectares of forest were lost last year, 2,091ha to fire and the rest was logged down," Nguyen Huu Dung, head of the Forest Protection Department, was quoted as saying in the Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) newspaper.

Forest destruction was most severe in the Central Highlands provinces of Lam Dong and Kon Tum, and the north-western province of Son La.

Dung said "risky, complicated activities and modern equipment" were increasingly being resorted to in the destruction of forests in the country.

Farming households that had land to cultivate were still clearing forests for industrial projects and farming. Some were even selling land illegally, he said.

Fines were imposed in 23,666 cases, 327 were taken to court and nearly 34,000 cubic metres of wood was confiscated. By the end of 2012, the country's total area of natural forests and forest land was estimated at 46,031 hectares.

Since 2006, around 160 hydro-power projects in 29 provinces nation-wide have taken 20,000ha of forest, but only eight of them have reforested 735ha, or 3.7 per cent of the area lost.

Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development sent seven teams to deforestation spots, instructed local authorities to review activities of all wood processing companies and co-operated with police in arresting forestry-related criminals.

"We already have a forest protection and development programme. All we have to do now is to bring all forces of the Forestry General Department to bear on protecting the forest," deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan said at the conference. He stressed the role of forest rangers in forest protection.

Forest rangers must be morally clean and never become one of the most important factors in the losing of this precious resource, he said. "Every ranger must remember that his mission is to protect forest, not to destroy them."

He also called on greater attention to be paid to fire prevention and fire-fighting, given that the loss of forests to fires increased nearly 20 per cent last year.

Source: VNS

Viet Nam, forest protection laws, wildlife hunting and trading