|Chò (White Meranti) trees have been illegally chopped down in Trà Đốc Nature Reserve in the central province of Quảng Nam. — VNS Photo Lê Trung
QUẢNG NAM — Rare tree species have been found chopped down in a Vietnamese nature reserve, but authorities are denying any deforestation occurred.
On December 5, tens of rare timber trees such as chò (White Meranti), sến (Lauan, Meranti) and lim (ironwood) were found to be chopped down in the forest area in Village 5 in Trà Đốc Commune in Trà Đốc Nature Reserve in central Quảng Nam Province.
Many tree roots left behind at the scene had diameter of between 50 centimetres and a metre.
A villager said illegal logging has occurred in the area for long time, and has become more common since Trường Sơn Đông Road opened to the public in March 2015.
“They (illegal loggers) cut down trees in the daytime,” he said, adding that no villagers dared to go near as they were afraid of being attacked.
Along the Suối Nú forest in Trà Đốc Commune, Bắc Trà My District, central province of Quảng Nam, more timber trees were chopped down. Some timber was left behind or had been burnt.
Hồ Văn Lợi, chairman of Trà Đốc Commune’s People’s Committee, told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that the nature reserve along the Trường Sơn Đông Road included many large rare timber trees and should not be cut down.
Under Government Decree 75, the local community was assigned to protect the forest and received VNĐ300,000-400,000 (US$13-17) per year per hectare they managed from the State budget.
Local households, in collaboration with forest rangers and communal officials, are supposed to make regular patrols and protect the forest.
Lợi said patrols have occurred every month since the beginning of this year, but no violations have been reported yet.
Currently, the commune has 324 hectares of nature reserve in need of protection in Village 4 and 5 along the Trường Sơn Đông Road. The commune has checked the records of local forest protection teams, communal officials and community forest management teams but found no cases of forest destruction.
A forest ranger in Trà Đốc Commune, known only as Trương, said he didn’t know anything about deforestation in the area.
Lợi said local forest rangers and community forest management teams had responsibility for fighting illegal logging as they went on patrol, signed off on the forest’s conditions and received funds for the work.
Meanwhile, Lê Văn Trường, head of the Forest Protection Division of Bắc Trà My District, said the forest area was protected and managed by Trà Đốc Commune’s authority.
The division has mobilised two forest rangers to help the commune manage and protect forests, he said.
Since the beginning of the year, nearly eight hectares of forest has been chopped down with 104 cubic metres of timber taken. A total 112 cases of violations have been discovered but none occurred in the commune.
Trường said the division would send more forest rangers to work with communal authorities to handle the deforestation.
He also said the district has asked the provincial authority to set up a forest ranging team to patrol the route to protect the forest. — VNS