GIA LAI (VNS)– A large area of protective pine forest in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai has been destroyed by local farmers to clear land for pepper and coffee plantations.
Located over 1km from the centre of Mang Yang District, the forest is under the management of the Dak Doa protective forest management division.
In a part of the forest, hundreds of pine trees were dying after farmers used the slash and burn method to clear the land, according to a local Vietnam News Agency correspondent.
Many trees up to 60cm in diameter were burnt to an ash without any response from local authorities.
Residents have even advertised this land for sale from VND200-250 (US$9,500-12,000) million per hectare.
In addition, about 2km from the destroyed pine forest, a large area of land has been divided into plots for sale, and some people have set up farms there.
"When the rainy season comes, people often cut down pine trees to plant pepper trees," said a resident from De Ron Village, adding that black pepper fetches over VND120,000 (nearly $6) per kilo at the market.
The division had asked the district to force farmers to uproot coffee and pepper trees in the protective forest, but their request received no response, according to division head Nguyen Long Son.
The provincial people's committee has also published an official document concerning deforestation in the district.
Local police have been asked to work with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to conduct an investigation into the matter.
"We have already co-operated with related authorities about these violations. However, we are faced with difficulties because local residents have occupied the forest land for a long time," said Colonel Phan Anh Tuan, a provincial police official. — VNS