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Illegal logging makes forest smaller

Update: January, 18/2014 - 12:00

People are chopping down trees in the forests of a national park in northern Viet Nam.

They are not allowed to do this because it is against special laws that are there to protect the environment.

The people who do illegal logging have always lived off the forests.

However, the problem is that as time goes on there is less and less forest left for them to live off.

Hoang Lien National Park covers an area of nearly 30,000ha, spreading across six upland communes of Lao Cai Province's Sa Pa District and Lai Chau Province's Than Uyen District.
Hoang Lien National Park covers an area of nearly 30,000ha, spreading across six upland communes of Lao Cai Province's Sa Pa District and Lai Chau Province's Than Uyen District. - File photo

LAO CAI (VNS) — Thousands of hectares of forests in Hoang Lien National Park in the northern province of Lao Cai are struggling to overcome forest fires, deforestation and illegal logging.

Hoang Lien National Park covers an area of nearly 30,000ha, spreading across six upland communes of Lao Cai Province's Sa Pa District and Lai Chau Province's Than Uyen District.

Forest areas have decreased over the years, mainly due to careless behavior, loose management, as well as illegal logging.

Party Committee Secretary of Sa Pa District, Ma Quang Trung, said "The national park has several huge forest fires every year. Eighty per cent of the fires are caused by local people who burn fields for land cultivation".

In the last five years, there were two huge forest fires that broke out in Hoang Lien National Park. In the largest forest fire in February 2010, fire destroyed approximately 1,700 ha of the park, including 1,000 ha at Ban Ho and Ta Van villages and 700ha in the area between Lao Cai and Lai Chau provinces, the People's Committee of Lao Cai Province reported.

According to Deputy Chairman of the municipal People's Committee Vang Van Khin, the core forest is home to some 10,300 people whose livelihood relies heavily on forest resources.

"Most of them are poor and generate income through forest-based activities, such as agriculture, rearing livestock and fisheries, or logging. An expansion of the local population, along with associated threats such as forest fires, will put more pressure on the national park," he told the Viet Nam News Agency.

"Most residents are ethnic people who have low levels of education and literacy, therefore their poor awareness about fire prevention and their actions often cause forest fires," he added.

"Although most people were aware of illegal logging, we still turned to logging because we had no alternative. The main income for us was from the forests."

Of note, illegal logging was becoming increasingly brazen and more complex, as rangers from the national park said. Giang A Sinh, a resident of Gang Ta Chai Mong, Ta Van Commune, is an example. In December 2012, three forestry officers were hospitalised after Sinh and his accomplices attacked rangers when they tried to stop them from logging, the province's Bureau of Forest Rangers reported.

The shortage of forest rangers and their lack of equipment, as well as the difficult terrain in the park, are major problems in preventing illegal logging, he said.

For long-term protection of the forest, Khin said, "The provincial authority needs to improve local residents' awareness of illegal logging and its negative impacts, and increase efforts to combat this".

He also suggested, "To effectively tackle this issue, authorities must support the people living in core forests so they can achieve sustainable livelihoods."

In addition, faced with increasing threats on forestry resources, forestry officers cannot deal with the problem alone, and urged agencies at communes to increase their co-operation.

Hoang Kim Ke, Vice Head of Hoang Lien Forest Protection Department, also confirmed this goal, saying, "Local authorities need to improve the awareness and knowledge of people, especially in local communities who are living near the forest, so they will understand about forest fire prevention and fighting."

The local community was urged to sign an agreement to stop burning fields for cultivation, cease illegal logging, along with taking responsibility for protecting the forests.

In a further effort to stop illegal logging and poaching, the Government will need to provide much stricter punishment, including prosecutions for violating forest management and protection regulations.

Hoang Lien national park covers the communes of San Sa Ho, Lao Chai, Ta Van, Ban Ho in Sa Pa District and a part of Muong Khoa Commune in Than Uyen District. The park was recognised by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat as heritage site in 2006.

It also includes a buffer zone of 38,724ha bordering some communes in the three districts of Van Ban, Than Uyen and Phong Tho in Lai Chau Province. — VNS

GLOSSARY

Thousands of hectares of forests in Hoang Lien National Park in the northern province of Lao Cai are struggling to overcome forest fires, deforestation and illegal logging.

A hectare is a measurement of land.

To overcome forest fires, deforestation and illegal logging means to win the battle over these problems.

Deforestation means the disappearance of trees in a forest.

"Eighty per cent of the fires are caused by local people who burn fields for land cultivation".

Cultivation means using land to grow crops.

According to Deputy Chairman of the municipal People's Committee Vang Van Khin, the core forest is home to some 10,300 people whose livelihood relies heavily on forest resources.

The core forest is the middle of the forest, far away from things like farms and villages.

Forest resources are things people can use in their daily lives, which come from the forest. Examples are woods for fires as well as fruits and animals to eat.

"Most of them are poor and generate income through forest-based activities, such as agriculture, rearing livestock and fisheries, or logging.," he told the Viet Nam News Agency.

Livestock means domestic animals that people raise to eat. They include chicken, cattle, water buffalo and goats.

"Most residents are ethnic people who have low levels of education and literacy, therefore their poor awareness about fire prevention and their actions often cause forest fires," he added.

Ethnic people are people from communities that may speak their own language and follow their own customs, which may be different to those of other communities nearby.

Literacy means the ability to read and write.

"Although most people were aware of illegal logging, we still turned to logging because we had no alternative."

An alternative to logging would be something else they could do instead.

Of note, illegal logging was becoming increasingly brazen and more complex, as rangers from the national park said.

To be brazen means to do things that are often risky and wrong fearlessly and without shame.

In December 2012, three forestry officers were hospitalised after Sinh and his accomplices attacked rangers when they tried to stop them from logging, the province's Bureau of Forest Rangers reported.

Sinh's accomplices would be people who joined him in doing something that was a crime.

The shortage of forest rangers and their lack of equipment, as well as the difficult terrain in the park, are major problems in preventing illegal logging, he said.

Terrain means countryside.

For long-term protection of the forest, Khin said, "The provincial authority needs to improve local residents' awareness of illegal logging and its negative impacts, and increase efforts to combat this".

To combat something means to fight it.

He also suggested, "To effectively tackle this issue, authorities must support the people living in core forests so they can achieve sustainable livelihoods."

Sustainable livelihoods are ways of life that support themselves. In other words, producing enough to live on.

In a further effort to stop illegal logging and poaching, the Government will need to provide much stricter punishment, including prosecutions for violating forest management and protection regulations.

When prosecutions happen, legal action is taken against people who have done wrong.

To violate a regulation means to break a law.

The park was recognised by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat as heritage site in 2006.

A heritage site is a place that is special because it is rich in history, culture, environmental or some other value.

It also includes a buffer zone of 38,724ha bordering some communes in the three districts of Van Ban, Than Uyen and Phong Tho in Lai Chau Province.

A buffer zone is an area between one place and another. In this case, it would be an area that is between the forest and the communes. It acts like a cushion to the forest, reducing the effects people from the commune may have on the forest and reducing the effects the forest may have on the commune.

WORKSHEET

State which of the following are true, or false:

1.        Hoang Lien National Park is in Lao Cai province.

2.        In the last year, seven huge forest fires broke out in Hoang Lien National Park.

3.        Giang A Sinh lives in a place called Gang Ta Chai Mong.

4.        In December two years ago, three forestry officers were hospitalised after being attacked.

5.        ASEAN stands for the Amalgamation of Southeast Asian Nationalities.

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2013



















1. True; 2. False; 3. True; 4. True; 5. False.

 

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