BAC KAN (VNS) — Illegal logging and gold mining are threatening to destroy Kim Hy Nature Reserve in this northern province in spite of local authorities' prevention efforts.
On the trail of a resident whom illegal loggers often hired to transport wood, Vietnam News Agency reporters saw numerous trees in the reserve chopped down, some with a diameter of more than one metre and a height more than 50 metres.
They also saw numerous places where tents and modern high-capacity machines used for gold mining were set up in Ban Vin Village of Kim Hy Commune, Na Ri District, and in Ban Lem Village of Vu Muon Commune.
Hoang Van T., a resident, said the tents and machines had been in the reserve for more than two months.
"I've seen trees that were more than 100 years old chopped down. People may think illegal exploitation is done spontaneously in small groups, but actually they are all well-prepared," he added.
"The illegal loggers know it all, including the right time to chop down the trees and the right time to take them out of the reserve," T. explained.
He revealed that each plank of nghien (Burretiodendron Hsienmu) wood, which measured around five cm thick, two metres long and 50cm wide, could be sold for up to VND1.2 million (US$57).
Ha Van Vien, deputy head of the Forest Rangers Unit of Kim Hy Nature Reserve, confirmed that the illegal logging problem in the reserve was quite complicated.
Since the beginning of 2014, the unit had seized and destroyed 200 machines used in illegal logging and imposed fines in 64 illegal logging cases.
"Forest rangers face numerous difficulties due to a lack of staff and equipment, as well as co-operation from local authorities in protecting the forests," Vien said, adding that sometimes loggers even tried to bribe the unit staff or threaten them for interfering in their business.
Nguyen Huu Thang, chairman of Na Ri District People's Committee, said local authorities had carried out regular patrols to protect the reserve. He added that he couldn't confirm reports of bribery of local authorities by illegal loggers. — VNS