|Authorised forces of Đắk Lắk Province found trees illegally cut down in a forest area in Krông Ana District last November. — VNA/VNS Photo
ĐẮK LẮK — Central Highlands localities need to raise the responsibility among forest owners and management to improve protection and development of the areas.
That’s according to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường who was addressing a conference on forestry management and production in the Central Highlands by the Steering Committee on the National Target Programme on Sustainable Forestry Development, held in Buôn Ma Thuột City of Đắk Lắk Province on Monday.
Agencies have been asked to draft a strategy on the development of the forestry sector for the next ten years.
The region is home to nearly 2.6 million ha of forest, or 17.5 per cent of Việt Nam’s total. The region's forestry coverage increased to 45.9 per cent last year.
The region boasts great potential for forestry-based economic development as it plays an important role in protecting the local ecosystem, biodiversity and water resources, and regulating the climate for not only regional localities but also the central coastal, southeastern and Mekong Delta regions.
However, reports from the regional localities revealed a strong decline of forest area and quality.
Areas of natural forests have been on the decline, reducing by 15,750 ha in 2019 alone. The three provinces seeing the heaviest fall in the year were Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông and Gia Lai.
The region has also recorded an increasing number of deforestation cases, and illegal exploitation, trading, and transportation of forest products, especially in border areas, special-use forests, nature reserve areas, and areas with abundant forest resources.
In 2019 and the first five months of 2020, the Central Highlands provinces discovered 1,309 cases of deforestation, 644 cases of illegal forest exploitation, and 2,120 illegally trading cases of forest products.
The contradiction between the rising need to develop food production, long-term industrial trees, and nature conservation, biodiversity, along with free migration are major issues that are putting pressure on the natural forest and forest land, according to General Director of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry Nguyễn Quốc Trị.
Meanwhile, local authorities in some areas have yet fulfilled their responsibilities in forest protection and management and there was a lack of cooperation among relevant agencies and ministries in forest protection, he said.
The change of forest use purpose in a number of localities is also not strictly controlled.
Vice chairman of Đắk Lắk Province’s People’s Committee Y Giang Gry Nie Knơng, said the decline of natural forest area in the province was mainly blamed for increasing deforestation.
The provincial authorities had asked relevant agencies to regularly inspect forests at high risk of deforestation and strictly punish violators, he said.
General director Trị said Central Highlands provinces aimed to protect all of the existing natural forest areas in a bid to raise combined areas to 2.72 million ha and increase forestry coverage to 49.2 per cent of the region's total area by 2030.
He asked localities to take measures to prevent and handle violations, particularly deforestation, forest land encroachment, illegal forest exploitation and illegal trade of forest products.
The sector would also review and build special forestry mechanisms and policies for the Central Highlands region towards encouraging the formation of the community-based forest management, creating conditions for local citizens to join forest protection and development.
It was also necessary to speed up the decentralisation of forest management responsibilities and increase cooperation among relevant ministries and agencies in forest protection and management, he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development asked authorities of Central Highlands provinces to take measures to create jobs and stabilise living conditions for local citizens to promptly deal with free migration issue as part of measures to better protect and manage forests. — VNS