Protection forests in Cà Mau Province’s Ngọc Hiển District. — VNA/VNS Photo Vũ Sinh
CÀ MAU — The southernmost province of Cà Mau in recent years has developed its protection and commercial forests, which provide much-needed household, export and tourism revenue.
Last year, the province planted 506ha of new forests, and replanted 4.2ha of replacement forests and 100ha of special-use forests. It also replanted more than 3,000ha of commercial forests that harvested wood last year.
Cà Mau has more than 94,000ha of concentrated forests, including about 52,000ha of commercial forests, 18,000ha of special-use forests, and 23,000ha of protection forests.
In U Minh Hạ forest, the area of high-quality commercial forests totals 22,300ha. The cultivation of forests under intensive growing methods in U Minh Hạ has offered farmers a wood output of 150-200 cu.m. per hectare.
Wood is one of five key agricultural products in the province’s agriculture restructuring plan. The other key agricultural products are shrimp, high-quality rice, mud crabs and bananas.
This year, the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development plans to grow 312ha of new forests, aiming to increase the province's coverage rate to 26.2 per cent by the end of this year and to 27 per cent in 2025.
To meet the coverage rate, the province will plant more than 29 million trees, or 10,892ha of new forests, from now to 2025.
Lê Văn Sử, deputy chairman of the province's People’s Committee, has told departments and localities to protect existing forests, especially special–use and protective forests.
The cultivation of commercial forests has offered a good income for farmers in recent years. Under the instruction of local authorities and forestry companies, farmers have grown acacia trees for wood as the large tree has a high yield and high quality.
In U Minh District’s Khánh Thuận Commune, farmers have used intensive cultivation methods to grow forests and have switched from cajuput to acacia. It takes about five years to harvest acacia trees.
Farmers can earn VNĐ100-500 million (US$4,300-21,600) by harvesting wood from one hectare of commercial forest.
Đào Thị Nhỏ in Khánh Thuận’s Hamlet 18 said she moved the hamlet in 1990 and was poor at that time, but she began planting forests in recent years.
“Life is now more comfortable,” she said.
The commune’s average income per capita has increased to VNĐ45 million ($1,940) a year, up 15 per cent against 2015.
Besides forests, farmers in the communes grow other short-term crops and animals to improve income, which provides funds while they wait to harvest the wood.
Farmer Nguyễn Văn Mẫn grows 4ha of commercial forests and 3ha of banana trees in Khánh Thuận’s Hamlet 18. He earns an income of more than VNĐ10 million ($430) a month selling bananas.
With its mangrove forests, national park forests, nature preserves and bird sanctuaries, Cà Mau has rich resources for tourism services, according to the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Tourists can visit mangrove forests in the Mũi Cà Mau National Park, plant trees on alluvial grounds in coastal areas, and visit bird sanctuaries and gardens.
Lê Văn Hải, head of the province’s Forest Protection Sub-department, said the province has many bird gardens, most of which are owned by households that offer ecotourism services.
Trương Minh Thắng, owner of the 10ha Tư Sự bird garden in Thới Bình District’s Biển Bạch Đông Commune, began offering tourism services in 2018 with the support of the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Thới Bình People’s Committee.
Local authorities have also helped him renovate the garden canals and taught him how to tend to bird species. His garden attracts a large number of visitors each year.
“During the last Tết (Lunar New Year) festival, the number of visitors fell by 60 per cent compared to normal because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the garden still received about 1,000 visitors,” Thắng said.
This year he will build a homestay area separate from the bird garden.
The province has offered support to households that offer homestay services, and has called for more investment in key tourism destinations such as the Cà Mau Cape Tourism Area in Ngọc Hiển District.
The province has attracted more than 1.5 million tourists each year to its major tourism destinations since 2018, according to the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
It targets receiving 2.8 million tourists a year by 2030, including 110,000 foreign tourists. — VNS
An aerial view of Cà Mau Cape Tourism Area in Cà Mau Province’s Ngọc Hiển District. — VNA/VNS Photo Thế Anh