A section of forest is exploited illegally in southern Đồng Nai Province. Nearly 2.2 million hectares of forest land across the country is at high risk of being exploited and having its designated use changed illegally. — Photo sggp.org.vn
HÀ NỘI — Nearly 2.2 million hectares of forest land across the country is at high risk of being exploited and having its designated use changed illegally, a workshop heard yesterday in Hà Nội.
The forest land at risk has been controlled by people’s committees at the commune level, creating a problem of conflicts of forest land usage between locals, forestry companies, and forest management boards.
The workshop plans to discuss using forest land effectively and sustainably, following the forestry sector restructuring project approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in 2013. The 2013 MARD decision means there will be changes in forests and forestry lands in the coming years.
Until 2020, the total area of forest for special purposes will remain at about 2.3 million ha. Meanwhile, protected forest will be transformed into productive land, to ensure the livelihoods of locals and to provide materials for processing and industry.
In a related move, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc ordered the closing of natural forests in the Central Highland provinces this week to avoid overharvesting wood.
Cao Chí Công, Deputy General Director of MARD’s Forestry Administration, told Nông Thôn Ngày Nay (Countryside Today) the PM’s order aims to ban wood processing factories from illegally exploiting natural forests for profit, in addition to ending illegal deforestation.
The Central Highland region lost 180,000 ha of forest land between 2010 and 2014, according to MARD.
In 2015 alone, more than 16,000 deforestation cases were documented in five Central Highlands provinces, an increase of nearly 500 cases compared to the previous year.
Nguyễn Bốn, the chairman of Đắk Nông Province’s People’s Committee, said many forest rangers and police sell forest land illegally, leading to deforestation of a vast area of the region. — VNS