|Forest rangers inspect regrown forests in Gia Lai Province’s Krông Chro District. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Điệp|
GIA LAI — The Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai has been growing new forests and protecting existing ones in recent years to expand forest cover and improve people’s livelihoods.
The province, which has the largest forest cover in the Tây Nguyên region, planted nearly 25,300ha in 2017-20, 6.3 times its target.
In Mang Yang District’s Hra Commune, the Hra Protective Forest management board allocated more than 6,300ha of forests last year to individuals, households and communities to exploit while also protecting them.
Nguyễn Văn Chín, head of the board, said besides planting and protecting forests, the board focuses on advocacy activities to enhance awareness of households and communities living near forests of the need to protect them.
Together with local authorities it organises advocacy activities to annually reach around 1,500 people in the commune’s 12 villages.
With these and support for illegal loggers to overcome their family’s financial difficulties, it has managed to stop the logging and make loggers forest guardians.
Dương Xuân Kiếm used to be an illegal logger but is now the head of a forest protection group in the commune.
He and others used to cut down forests to sell wood to feed their families, but after receiving help from the board to stabilise their lives, they have become forest protectors, he said.
His group protects 400ha of natural forests.
Last year the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development gave him an award as an exemplary forest protector.
Seeing the good examples set by the former illegal loggers, other residents in the commune have also stopped cutting trees and are instead keen to be allotted tracts of forest for protection.
The money authorities pay them for this task helps them have a stable life.
Krông Chro District is one of the localities to do well in growing and protecting forests through advocacy.
Nguyễn Lâm, deputy head of its forest protection bureau, said the district organises meetings in villages to encourage people to grow trees on deforested lands.
“The new forests are growing well, creating jobs and improving people’s incomes.”
There were nearly 200 households in the district registering to grow nearly 400ha of new forests last year, according to the bureau.
Around 700 households in the district, mostly ethnic minorities, registered to plant trees on nearly 2,250ha in 2017-19, comfortably higher than the target the province People’s Committee set the district.
The province’s Forest Protection Sub-department has petitioned the Government to increase the fee paid to ethnic households for forest protection.
Gia Lai wants to increase its forest cover rate to 47.5 per cent by 2025.
It has 633,325ha of forests now, including 543,131ha of natural forests, according to the department.
But another 146,636ha of former forest lands are denuded of trees.
BOX: Certified forest increase in Quảng Trị
The central province of Quảng Trị, the second-largest timber producer nationwide, is targeting granting forest management certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for 100,000ha of forests, four times higher than the current figure.
The quick and sustainable development of FSC-certified areas is a key solution for turning Quảng Trị into a hub for timber production and processing from planted forests in the central region, as set out in the Resolution from the provincial Party Committee’s 17th Congress.
According to permanent Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Hà Sỹ Đồng, Quảng Trị is focusing on building projects and issuing policies in support of forestation work, while encouraging the engagement of local households and forest owners. This will help protect the environment, prevent natural disasters, and respond to climate change.
The province is now home to 250,000ha of forests, including 110,000ha of planted forests, 41 timber processing plants, and nearly 200 businesses operating in the sector. It produces between 800,000 and 1 million cubic metres of timber annually. The province has developed 23,000ha of FSC-certificated forests, or 12 per cent of the country’s total. — VNS