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Locals to help care for the nation's forests

Update: March, 03/2012 - 09:32
Locals tend to saplings in Tra Tan Commune in the central province of Quang Ngai. The national forest protection and development plan for the next ten years will encourage people to be more involved in forest protection. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Viet
HA NOI — The Government says it wants people to be at the centre of forest preservation as it aims to increase forest coverage by 45 per cent by 2020 to battle climate change.

However, it has acknowledged that despite an increase in forest coverage, more than 2.8 million ha of former forest land is still denuded, biodiversity in some natural forests has decreased and that illegal logging, forest fires, encroachment and violence against forestry officials were still rampant.

At the annual meeting of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Develop-ment's Forest Sector Support Partnership (FSSP), Ha Cong Tuan, deputy head of forestry administration, said the sector had achieved considerable results after 13 years implementing a national project to plant five million ha of forest.

Accordingly, 4.6 million ha were planted between 1998-2010.

The project helped provide jobs for nearly 4.7 million workers, mostly poor householders and ethnic minority people.

"Residents' awareness on forest preservation has been raised. Now, people are looking for land to plant forest instead of waiting for the Government to approach them," said Nguyen Quang Duong, director of the Forest Development Department.

However, Duong said that more than 2.8 million ha of former forest remained denuded. At the same time, the quality and biodiversity in some natural forests had decreased or did not meet demands for timber production.

The national forest protection and development plan 2011-20, approved by the Government early in January, will focus on encouraging households living inside and near forests to sign forest protection contracts and conventions at a commune level.

Nguyen Nghia Bien, head of the administration's planning division, said forest allocation, leasing, and issuance of land use right certificates would be basically completed in 2015.

In addition, enterprises and households would soon be able to access a credit loan at a preferential rate to plant and protect trees. Vu Thi Hien, director of the Centre for Research and Development in Upland Areas, said communities relying on forests should be given help to access markets and in technology transfer.

"This is so people can live on the yield from the forests they protect," she said.

The Forest Sector Support Partnership also estimates that between 2005-2010, official development aid funds for all forestry-related projects reached US$560 million.

Official development assistance for the forestry sector will be used to restore and expand protective forests, including mangrove forests and other trees near the coast line. — VNS

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