Viet Nam News
QUẢNG TRỊ — A tree trader in central Quảng Trị Province has alledgedly committed fraud by selling huge trees meant for the local cemetery to residents of the neighbouring province.
Lê Quang Thuận, deputy chairman of the province’s mountainous Hướng Hóa District, said the district People’s Committee has stopped the tree donation scheme, which was being managed by local tree trader Bùi Ta Boong.
In February, Boong had proposed a tree donation programme for the district’s cemetery for war martyrs in order to create shade for visitors. The scheme was approved by the committee.
Under the programme, Boong was supposed to buy 10 perennial jarul (Lagerstroemia speciosa), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) and bishop wood (Bischofia javanica) trees from four communes in the district and replanted them in the cemetery. These were all huge trees grown in public places in the communes, much larger than other trees of the same species.
Forest rangers from the local division supervised the removal and transport of these trees from their original habitats to the cemetery. Võ Văn Sử, the division head, said eight of the 10 trees had arrived at the cemetery under close supervision.
Later, people living in the area noticed Boong and his crew taking some of these huge trees away from the cemetery. Boong was replacing and replanting smaller trees of the same species in the cemetery.
Last Saturday, local forest rangers stopped Boong and his crew while they were transporting four of the trees.
Boong admitted to Lao Động newspaper’s reporters on Tuesday that he was selling the giant trees in the neighbouring Quảng Bình Province and that he had already sold two trees.
For a decade now, these giant trees, especially bishop wood, have been very popular among owners of villas around the country, who want them planted on their properties. Some of the trees fetch up to VNĐ100 million (US$4,400) each.
Although Jarul and weeping fig trees are more common, some giant trees could fetch the same price.
Boong is a tree trader and is known to have a reputation for buying cheap trees from local ethnic minority households and selling them at a high cost in Hà Nội. — VNS