Viet Nam News
QUẢNG NAM – Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has ordered an investigation into the destruction of po mu trees (Fokienia hodginsii) in military sub-zone 351 belonging to Nam Sông Bung protected forest in the central province of Quảng Nam.
The Prime Minister assigned the Ministry of Public Security to co-ordinate with the Ministry of National Defence and the People’s Committee of Quảng Nam Province to provide clarity on the incident and strictly deal with violations.
The instruction follows the report that some local residents on July 9 found 280 logs of po mu wood, equalling 28cu.m, hidden near a border guard station of the Đắc Ốc border gate. It was about 100m from Laos.
The police from Nam Giang District have decided to initiate a lawsuit on the case and assigned its staff to begin an investigation.
On July 14, police discovered 60 po mu trees that had been chopped down while exploring military sub-zone 351.
Expanding their investigation, the district’s police uncovered 115 logs of po mu wood on the premises of the Nam Giang border gate’s customs agency and 25 logs concealed at a house of a local resident near the area, as well as two wood storage yards hidden in bushes near the customs office and border guard station. The total po mu wood seized is estimated at 45cu.m.
Deputy Chairman of Quảng Nam Province People’s Committee, Lê Trí Thanh, on Wednesday led a working group to the scene.
It was there that the working group saw a lot of felled po mu trees, which were at least a hundred years old.
Thanh said this was a serious violation of the forest protection law and it might have been the result of organised crime.
He urged concerned agencies to probe the incident in an urgent manner and apply tough penalties should the violators be caught.
Because the deforestation occurred in an area bordering Laos’s Sekong Province, the provincial authority has sent a document requesting the Laotian side to co-ordinate, so that individuals and organisations responsible could be punished soon.
In related news, Director General of the Vietnam Customs, Nguyễn Văn Cẩn, on Tuesday asked the head of Quảng Nam Province’s Customs Department to suspend Lê Trung Thịnh, head of the customs agency, for suspected involvement in the incident.
Nguyễn Hoàng, head of the customs control team will take over Thịnh’s post until the case is made clear.
Po mu is considered valuable wood because of its unique scent and eye catching wood texture, as well as its unusual weight and high resistance to termites. It was listed in Viet Nam’s red book in 1996. It is used to make furniture, decorations and planks.
As many as 725 po mu trees, which are each between 300 to 1,000 years old, in Quảng Nam Province’s Tây Giang District have recently been recognised as a national heritage feature. – VNS