Viet Nam will encourage the private sector to invest in forestry development, Nguyen Ba Ngai, deputy director of the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry, told the Viet Nam Economic Times.
Disputes over forest land have become very complicated. In your opinion, what are the causes of this and how can it be resolved?
At present, we have more than 70,000 hectares of disputed forest land between the State Forest Enterprises (SFEs) and the people and between the people themselves. Of course, there are various reasons leading to these disputes.
However, the primary cause is the people's lack of production land. As a result, they have to "nip" at the SFEs' land. In addition, due to the shortage of human resources coupled with poor means of production and other factors, the SFEs have to lease a part of their forest land to the community to plant trees or for whatever business they want to do.
We have asked all SFEs nationwide to build a forest inventory so that we can overhaul our forest management and restore law and order on the use of forest land. We hope, through the inventory, the misused land will be retrieved and land that is used less efficiently will be distributed to households living in the nearby communes to build houses or for production.
The other reason is the poor enforcement of the land law and policies in many localities, leading to the problem of unfair treatment of people, the root cause of disputes. In some localities, forest land which used to belong to SFEs has been transferred to local governments for their management.
But some local governments are too slow to allocate land to people for production. In some localities, the authorities have even allocated forest land belonging to SFEs to private companies to plant industrial trees for profits. And the third reason is that the work of land and forestry allocation in some localities has been poorly implemented, leading to the overlapping allocation of the same land units to several households.
At present, the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry is implementing a comprehensive project on forestry inventory. The project will last till 2016. Through the inventory, we hope to identify forest land disputes on our map and then work out measures to solve the problems.
We have completed the collection of all forest land data of the northern province of Bac Can and the central province of Ha Tinh. This is the first time that Viet Nam has a forest map containing all data relating to individual forest owners.
For example, there are over 4,000 forest owners in Bac Can Province and some 20,000 forest owners in Ha Tinh Province. All these data is now available on the website of our department.
What about the current forest management in Viet Nam?
The Viet Nam Administration of Forestry has vowed to tighten the management of the existing 10.4 million hectares of natural forests nationwide, including four million hectares of protected forests and 4.4 million hectares of production forests. According to our plan, the forest sector will restructure its management in line with the government's policy. We will then manage about 50 per cent of the forest land, while the remaining will be managed by the non-state sectors.
We know that huge capital resources are needed for forest plantation. How can we find the needed capital?
According to the proposal on the structural reform of the forestry sector, the first thing we have to do is to improve the quality of the production forests. In 2014, we plan to change the small lumber forests of low quality to large lumber forests of high quality.
Viet Nam has set a goal of achieving about $15-16 billion in the export turnover of lumber by 2020, which is three times the current figure.
To achieve this goal, it is imperative to plant new species with high lumber productivity and quality.
In the context of the downsising of the Government's investment fund in the forest sector, there is no other way. We have to mobilise capital resources from the other sectors in forest development in non-timber products, lumber processing and consumption and others. In my opinion, it is imperative that the government introduces a credit package for the implementation of this policy.
This is a breakthrough that will bring more benefits from the forest to the people. — VNS