|Local breeders and their elephants travel through a forest in Central Highland Dak Lak Province's Buon Don District. Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has called for enhanced protection of forests and their ecosystem in the region. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan
HA NOI (VNS)— By 2020, provinces in the Central Highlands must increase forest coverage to 55 per cent from the current level of 51.3 per cent, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai told participants in a conference on Central Highlands Forest Protection and Development in Buon Ma Thuot City yesterday.
To achieve the target, Hai said, all five Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) provinces (Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Lam Dong) should strive to protect the existing forest while trying to restore destroyed forest areas and use the natural resources in the forest in a sustainable manner.
"It is important to improve the quality and integrated value of the forest products in order to raise people's income and make them feel more attached to forestation," Hai said.
He ordered local leaders to put an immediate halt to acts of forest encroachment and destruction as well as violations against law enforcement officers, including forest rangers.
The Central Highlands has a total land area of 54,461 km2 with 5.1 million people. The region holds a key strategic position in the national economy, politics, security and defence. It also has significant forest resources as well as advantages in economic and forestry development.
Speaking at the conference, many participants attributed the loss of forestland to rapid population growth and the increasing value of agricultural products such as coffee, rubber, cassava and cashew nuts.
They complained about the irrational taxes levied on forest resources and poor forestry management by government agencies, particularly State forest enterprises, as well as the change of forest land into rubber plantations in many localities. — VNS