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Forest land-using projects required to plant new trees

Update: October, 13/2015 - 09:00
"If a project fails to meet the requirement, it will be considered as not ensuring sustainable development goals and is not feasible," said Hai. — Photo thiennhien.net

HA NOI (VNS) — Any projects using forest land in the future must include, once put forward for investment approval, a feasible report on the plan to plant new trees and to allocate a specific land fund, said Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.

During an online conference of the State Steering Committee on forest protection and development plans with localities yesterday in Ha Noi, the deputy PM strongly asked related localities and bodies to thoroughly grasp this issue.

"If a project fails to meet the requirement, it will be considered as not ensuring sustainable development goals and is not feasible," said Hai.

A review of forest land usage in localities revealed that among nearly 68,000ha of forest land swapped for other purposes, only 16,000ha have been reforested, equal to 24 per cent, the conference heard.

Of note, forest land reallocated for public works make up more than 30,000ha, but only 8.2 per cent of that amount has been reforested. In the meanwhile, more than 51 per cent of forest land reallocated for hydropower projects has been replaced with new trees.

Inadequate management and guidance in certain localities were to blame, the Government e-newspaper baochinhphu.vn reported. Quite a few localities had been slow to allocate the State budget for reforestation whilst investors did not actively build up plans to plant new forest or contribute funds for the localities for such purposes.

Many projects fail to allocate certain finances for reforestation because they did not put in an estimate for this practice initially.

Facing this circumstance, Deputy PM Hai emphasised that planting new trees to replace the ones cut was one of the essential solutions to the policy to protect and develop forest and protect the eco-system towards sustainable development.

Prior to the issuance of the Government's Decree 23/2006/ND-CP, investors and managementbodies did not care much about these issues. Many projects were carried out without a scheme for reforestation, the conference heard.

"Therefore, from now on, to-be-approved projects must propose reforestation plans plus specific land funds, which are considered as decisive factors for the feasibility of any investment project [that uses forest land]," said the Deputy PM.

"If the total land area that needs to be afforested is too large or a project fails to present adequate land funds, the project is considered to have no social benefits and needs to be rejected immediately."

"The Ministry of Industry and Trade and Ministry of Agriculture, and Rural Development must oversee the reforestation. With the current projects, localities should review and work with investors to develop a concrete plan to contribute to the provincial forest development funds," said Hai.

"Any investor who fails to do so will have their license revoked."

Regarding more than 30,000ha of forest land used for public works as mentioned above, the Deputy PM called for these two ministries to allocate funds for reforestation in the coming years to ensure increased forest coverage.

The Deputy PM also called for raised awareness and expanded models which are effective and appropriate in some localities, like in the case of central Nghe An Province and northern Lai Chau Province.

Some investors in Nghe An Province are funding reforestation projects whilst investors in Lai Chau Province finance local funds which are used for reforestation.

He noted that reforestation projects should pay more attention to the quality and environmental requirements to make sure that the new forest would be at least as good as the one that was cut. — VNS

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