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Forest rangers under threat

Update: October, 11/2014 - 10:09

Attacks on forest rangers are increasing, Inspection and Legislation Division director under the MARD's Ranger Department Nguyen Xuan Thang tells Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today).

Assaults on forest rangers have increased in the last few months. The latest case was a ranger from Huong Khe division in Ha Tinh Province. Could you give us an overview of the situation?

In the last nine months, there were 40 reported assaults on forest rangers and guards, resulting in one death and wounding 34, according to reports from rangers divisions. Most of the attacks occurred in central Viet Nam and the Central Highlands. Six cases occurred in Binh Thuan, eight in Dak Nong, three cases in Ha Tinh and four in Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh. The police took the 10 most serious cases to court and temporarily arrested 28 attackers.

Worth mentioning is that attacks on law enforcement officers have become more complicated and organised. The attackers have resorted to various means of defense when they were intercepted by the law enforcement officers, including verbal attacks and destroying public property and evidence.

Why are forest attackers getting so ferocious?

In my opinion, there are various factors, including their need to earn their livelihood, the erosion of their sense of ethics and low awareness of law enforcement.

Moreover, local officials have not properly dealt with violence against law enforcement officers in forests. As a result, many criminals successfully lured others to take part in their fight against law enforcement officers.

Local rangers have complained that their forest protection gear is rudimentary while forest attackers have modern weapons. What's your position on this?

Recently, rangers were provided with better gear. However, due to financial constraints, we cannot afford to provide them with cars, big motorcycles or communication equipment even though these things would assist them in their daily work.

What is the Ranger Department's plan to strengthen rangers' capacity?

The increase in forest destruction and assaults on forest law enforcement officers has caused anxiety in society. Meanwhile, the poor living conditions of people living inside or near the forests has negatively affected forest protection and management activities.

One of the factors leading to the spike in forest encroachment is the fact that our forest rangers lack adequate gear. That's why the Ranger Department has asked the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry to develop a project on organisational restructuring and improving forest rangers' efficiency in the 2014-2020 period to submit to the agriculture and rural development minister. If the proposal is approved by the minister, we'll submit it to the prime minister for approval.

If the project is approved, I hope it will help improve our forest rangers' performance and our forests will be better managed and protected. — VNS


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