Viet Nam News
QUẢNG TRỊ - Quảng Trị Province is facing serious forest usurpation and deforestation as people seek to expand the land area available for farming.
As of this year, the provincial People’s Committee has assigned public forestry companies and local authorities to manage more than 330,000 ha of forest land.
To improve the forest stewardship and protection, the provincial authority has classified its forest into three categories: protection, special-use and production forests. Also, it has created favorable conditions for companies and people to develop sustainable forestry. Projects of greening barren land have been implemented to expand forest areas, especially FSC certificated ones.
However, rising wood prices fuels illegal deforestation. Many people in the mountainous areas cut down trees to sell the wood, creating serious conflicts with the forest management agencies.
Hướng Hoá – Đakrông protection forest management board is responsible for 26,227ha forest land, covering 15 wards and towns in the two mountainous districts of Hướng Hoá and Đakrông. Forests are interspersed with residential areas and farming land in these districts.
At present, natural forests and industrial forests in parts of Hướng Hoá District are being encroached upon by local people. Over seven ha of forest in the distric’ts Hướng Phùng and Tân Thành Wards have been destroyed since the beginning of 2017.
Frequently, the deforestation occurs when people begin planting banana and rice in forested areas and then propose converting the forest into farming land to the authorities—after the outcome has become a fait accompli.
Nguyễn Công Tuấn, director of Hướng Hoá – Đakrông protection forest management board, said that the phenomenon is becoming more serious. Therefore, they collaborate with local authorities to promote forest protection, re-designate forest lands and demarcate forest boundaries.
Forestry companies victimized, too
The same problem occurs to Route 9 Forestry Company and Bến Hải Forestry Company. According to Hoàng Ngọc Thành, head of Bến Hải Forestry Company’s administration board, the forest invasion is complicated. There are 70ha of invaded forestry land in several wards of Vĩnh Linh District as well as along the district’s border with Quảng Bình Province.
Though forest management has been tightened, deforestation has continued.
Triệu Phong District authorities investigated 13 agencies that showed signs of breaking the Land Law in 15 areas. In Đakrông district alone, there have been more than 100 cases of deforestation on a 63.16ha area since the beginning of the year. Most of the destroyed forests are natural ones belonging to public agencies such as the Hướng Hoá – Đakrông protection forest management board.
Nguyễn Hồng Thái, director of Route 9 Forestry Company, said that the company managed 7,524ha of forestry land, including 1,800ha of protected forest. However, in recent years, many people have cut down trees along springs and streams to plant their own trees. Thái said the company discussed the issue with local people but most of them said they had nowhere else to farm.
Deputy head of Quảng Trị Province People’s Committee Hà Sỹ Đồng said that the main reason for the land crunch is the rising population, which has strained already sparse agricultural resources in the mountainous terrain.
The government issued a decree to improve forest protection in 2016. Therein, forest protection agencies will conduct investigations to prevent deforestation and illegal hunting.– VNS