Cajuput forests in Kiên Giang Province’s An Minh District. – VNA/VNS Photo Lê Huy Hải
KIÊN GIANG – Households allocated forest lands to exploit but also protect in Kiên Giang Province have improved their income from harvesting trees and aquatic creatures and growing crops.
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province has allocated mostly coastal mangrove forests in recent years.
The beneficiary households must ensure 70 per cent of land is covered in forests and can use the rest to farm aquatic creatures and grow crops.
In An Minh District, 721 households have received a total of 2,226ha, according to the district People’s Committee.
Trần Văn Lùn, who was allocated 4.8ha in Đông Thạnh B Commune in 2010, has safeguarded it from fires in the dry season and improved his income.
Besides cajuput, he also grows vegetables and raises poultry and fish in the patch of land to earn around VNĐ60 million (US$2,600) a year.
Initially, the beneficiary households did not have much awareness about forest protection, but local authorities strengthened advocacy, and task has been carried out well since, he said.
“In the dry season we focus on preventing forest fires. We build dams, clear grass and store water for fire prevention and control.”
The province Forest Management Board has taught the households how to grow and conserve forests.
The board and the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development have developed effective models to breed aquatic species and grow other crops.
Trần Phi Hải, deputy director of the board, said a 2016 Government decree allows households to get forests for up to 20 years and keep all the income from their exploitation.
This incentivises households to protect forests including by controlling forest fires, he said.
Trần Hồng Đào, a former official in the An Minh District – An Biên District Forest Protection Division, received 10ha in the 1990s.
Before the issuance of the decree, households could only earn an income mostly from harvesting aquatic species and secondary forestry products, but now his family earns around VNĐ50 million ($2,100) a year just from selling timber, he said.
He earns another VNĐ20 million ($850) a year from breeding fish and growing coconut, banana and vegetables, he said.
The province needs to establish co-operative groups for the households to protect the forests better, he added.
Coastal forests enjoy favourable weather and water conditions for breeding creatures like fish, shrimp, crabs and clams.
The province has allotted 12,000ha of forests to households and organisations to protect in 2018-20.
During the period, it has conserved 54,000ha of natural and man-made forests to maintain a 12 per cent forest cover. – VNS