Viet Nam News
HÀ TĨNH — A forest of trees covering several hundred hectares at the foot of Hoành Sơn mountain in central Hà Tĩnh Province has come back to life, thanks to the efforts of one man.
The man, Nguyễn Tiến Vít, has survived threats from illegal loggers many times. His wife and children advised him to return to his normal life, but he refuses to give up. He even patrols tens of kilometres across the forest each day to make sure it is protected.
The locals, of course, call the newly treed area “Vít Forest”. Vít, 67, has spent nearly 30 years planting and protecting trees in the forest, which was seriously damaged by illegal logging from the 1990s.
The green area in Kỳ Thượng Commune in Kỳ Anh District had almost became a bare hill before Vít intervened. The destruction was mostly caused by local people cutting down trees to build houses or to take land for short-term industrial plants.
But Vít realised that if the trees kept falling, the forest would disappear - and that natural disasters, like flood and drought, could become worse.
So he decided to save the forest. He asked local authorities to hand it over to him for protection. Many local citizens called him “crazy” because they thought it was a hopeless task. But Vít did not care. He was determined to revive the “green lung” of the province.
"I spent my childhood with the forest. It was so sad to see trees being destroyed. I just want to protect and expand the forest,” he told Vnexpress online newspaper.
He started his plan by patiently keeping and taking care of each stump left by loggers to help them grow again. He also turned unused land around the forest into orchards full of oranges, mandarins and grapefruit, which has brought him an annual income of tens of millions of đồng.
Vít spends this money buying seeds and seedlings of trees such as acacia, eucalyptus and cajeput.
His work is carefully planned. He plants trees in different layers so that high trees create shade for fruit trees.
Vít even went and lived in the forest to have more time to protect it. He had no electricity, water or household equipment. He even had to face threats from illegal loggers.
After 27 years, the forest has now mostly recovered. There are trees up to 30-40m with diametres of between 30-50cm. He also turned “empty” land around the forest into the land of hundreds of fruits trees, which has brought him an annual income of tens of millions of đồng.
Vít has co-ordinated with local authorities to consult and advise local citizens not to cut down trees.
What makes local people admire Vít is that he never cuts down any trees for personal use.
“Kỳ Thượng Commune has the hottest climate in Hà Tĩnh Province and is often stricken by natural disasters. The forest serves as an air conditioner for local people in summer and as a shield to protect them from floods and storms,” he told Thanh niên (Young People) newspaper.
Vít said he was threatened by illegal loggers many times. His wife and children even advised him to stop and came back to the normal life for his safety but he never gave up.
Nguyễn Tiến Hiệp, head of Kỳ Hợp forest management station, said the forest had survived and thrived thanks to Vít, who has hopes of one day turning the area into an ecological tourism site. — VNS