|Phuc Trach Commune farmers in the central province of Ha Tinh's Huong Khe District plant trees. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced a draft decree to boost forest protection and development by doubling financial support for poor ethnic minorities in woodland areas. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyet
HA NOI (VNS) — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced a draft decree yesterday, which will boost forest protection and development by doubling financial support for poor ethnic minorities in forest areas.
The decree will provide mechanisms and policies to encourage forest regeneration and protection, promote, and develop non-wood forest products in line with poverty reduction through 2020. Ethnic minority households in the mountainous and rural areas will be the beneficiaries of the decree.
Households involved in forest protection will be paid VND400,000 (US$18.8) per hectare per year, doubling the payment from the current level.
Those committed may receive up to VND1 million ($47.1) per hectare per year within six years for low-intensity efforts, and VND2 million ($94.3) per hectare per year within the first three years.
Individuals can earn VND10 million ($471) per hectare if the forest has trees that are more than 10 years old, and VND6 million ($282) per hectare for trees that were planted less than a decade ago.
These households will also be granted additional support, such as a supply of rice and favourable interest rates for bank's loans.
At a discussion of the draft decree yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh, said the protection and development of forests was one of the measures being adopted for achieving sustainable poverty reduction.
He added that the draft resolution should encourage residents to make full use of forest land for developing production and livestock by offsetting interest costs through bank loans.
He said the rate of poor households in remote areas had fallen by over five per cent annually. However, that percentage of ethnic minorities remained as high as 50 per cent.
Participants approved the issuance of the decree and also suggested raising the number of beneficiaries to include the Kinh people, who also live in disadvantaged areas.
Forests damaged in Dak Lak
The Central Highlands Province of Dak Lak allocated more than 36,000ha of forests to around 5,000 households between 2001 and 2005, but since then 11,000ha has been destroyed.
A group of fifteen households in Ea Bung Commune, Ea Sup District were assigned to manage 300ha of forests, but most of that area has been damaged.
Huynh Tan Hung, head of the group, said that the forest was about 30-40km from their homes, so it cost a lot of time and money to travel out there.
Similarly, in Krong Bong District, more than 9,000ha of forest was assigned to 37 households, and now more than 6,000ha has been destroyed.
Unable to protect the forests, local residents have sent a petition to local authorities asking to be relieved of the responsibility.
Pham Van Thuoc, chairman of Cu M'lan Commune's People's Committee, said that the commune had received the petitions.
"We are not sure how to proceed, so we are asking residents to give us time to request more money from authorities to pay them a fairer amount to look after the forests," said Thuoc.
Kso Gru, deputy chairman of Ea Sol Commune's People's Committee, said the forest had been managed by afforestation units, but once they had exhausted the resources there, they transferred the land to local authorities.
Now residents will have to wait from 30-40 years to benefit from the timber, but they still need money now to get by.
They were paid VND1 million ($47) per year to look after the forests, which was not enough of an incentive, said Kso Gru. — VNS