Viet Nam News
ĐIỆN BIÊN – Migrant people who lack land for production are being blamed for deforestation over the last decade in the northern Điện Biên Province’s Mường Nhé District.
The chairman of the district People’s Committee, Lù Văn Thanh, said that in the last two years, local authorities discovered that almost 300ha of forest had been cleared in 313 cases of illegal deforestation.
He blamed the deforestation on a higher number of migrants flocking to the district.
He said 60 per cent of the 7,800 households in the district were from the Hmông ethnic group, who moved to there after 2005.
“They chop down trees and grow crops for food,” he said. “On average, each household destroyed three hectares of forest to grow crops to feed their family.”
“After two years, when the soil becomes exhausted, they continue to destroy another 3ha,” Thanh said, estimating that at least 30,000ha of forest were destroyed by migrant people.
He said that for years, local authorities failed to stop them.
Those responsible for cutting down trees even attacked forest rangers, local officials and residents, he said, citing a March 3 attack using wooden sticks and knives against law enforcement officers that injured six.
In some cases, they form groups of up to 50 people and threaten State officers who try to prevent them from cutting down trees.
A Vietnam News Agency reporter witnessed treeless mountains and burned land along the way to Phứ Ma Village in Mường Nhé District’s Lenh Su Sìn Commune. Similar sites can be seen in Pá Lùng Village in Chung Chải Commune, Nà Pán Village, in Mường Nhé Commune.
Just one year ago, trees blanketed these areas.
Senior officials said Mường Nhé was known as one of most disadvantaged remote areas in Việt Nam.
It used to take them three or four days to reach the district’s centre because they had to cross thick forests that were dark even in daytime.
Now, according to local statistics, only 71,000ha of forest land remain in the district, and forest coverage is just 45.3 per cent. - VNS