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Firms flout obligation to protect forest

Update: August, 11/2018 - 08:00
Pine trees in a protected forest are illegally chopped down in Đà Lạt City, the Central Highland provinces of Lâm Đồng. The province has seen deforestation occur in dozens of projects using forest land. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Dũng
Viet Nam News

LÂM ĐỒNG — Up to 1,157 ha of forest in the Central Highlands Province of Lâm Đồng was lost in the last 10 years after companies rented forest land to carry out projects, the province’s agriculture department announced early this week.

According to the department, since 2008, the province leased over 57,200 ha of forest land to 321 companies to carry out 386 projects. These include 116 eco-tourism projects, 113 forestation projects, 59 rubber-growing projects, 41 agriculture-forestry projects and 13 fishery projects.

Many project investors reportedly failed to protect forests despite their obligations to manage and protect them.

In some cases, the investors reportedly deforested and over-exploited forestry products or delayed implementing their projects in order to wait for opportunities to transfer the allocated land and gain profits.

So far, deforestation was found at 84 forest-related projects in the province.

Deputy director of the province’s agriculture department Võ Danh Tuyên said seeing the negative impacts of improper forest land management and hoping to curb deforestation, the provincial People’s Committee decided to stop 189 forest-related projects with total area of over 28,200 ha.

Investors had their projects withdrawn because they delayed the projects or did not have sufficient financial capacity to continue the projects, Tuyên said.

He added that the provincial People’s Committee also decided such companies must pay compensation for causing damage to forest resources.

The total compensation will be over VNĐ219.4 billion (US$9.4 million).

For example, Hoàng Thịnh Import-Export Trade and Manufacture Ltd Company were asked to pay compensation of nearly VNĐ70 billion ($3 million) for about 111ha of lost forest. Vĩnh Tuyên Lâm Ltd Company will pay about VNĐ23 billion ($990,700) for over 49ha forest, Sài Gòn-Đại Ninh Tourism and Investment Joint Stocks Company over VNĐ6.6 billion ($284,000) for over 139 ha of lost forest.

“As of now, the province has just collected about 10 per cent of the compensation as violators have delayed paying,” Tuyên said, adding that local authorities also found difficulties in removing crops and construction works that the land renters built on the forestry land.

In the last few years, at least 42 State employees in the province were disciplined for involvement in deforestation cases.

Since 1983, Việt Nam has been implementing a policy in which forest and forest land are allocated to organisations, households and individuals for use and management. It is expected that when the forest and forest land are managed by identified legal entities, they will be used, managed and protected effectively. However, many were found to take advantages of this policy to gain profits through developing forest-related projects, renting forest land, logging, overexploiting forest resources or trading the land. — VNS

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