The protective forest area in Lăng Chua Village, Tuyên Quang Province that was illegally destroyed. — VNA/VNS Photo
TUYÊN QUANG — Thousands of square metres of protective forest in the northern province of Tuyên Quang's Lăng Chua Village have been destroyed, but local authorities and forest rangers say nothing has been done about it.
The illegally-destroyed protective forest is located in Trung Hà Commune of Chiêm Hóa District, vietnamplus.vn online newspaper reported on Thursday. At present, there are only stumps of 15-20cm in diametre left on the hillside.
On February 29, local rangers discovered 15,077cu.m of timber in the national highway area adjacent to Hồng Quang Village. According to local people, all of the timber was extracted from Đặng Văn Minh's plantation forest plot, in Lăng Chua Village.
Trần Văn Tuyến, head of Trung Hà Commune Ranger Station, said the rangers have not yet determined where the timber was cut down from. The station issued a notice to find the owner of the timber but no one has replied as yet.
The newspaper’s investigation revealed Đặng Văn Minh, living in Lăng Chua Village, had sold about 0.8ha of protective forest area to a man named Điệp residing in Bản Tháng Village.
Minh said: "I sold a part of the protective forest area managed by my family to Điệp, at a cost of VNĐ9 million."
However, Minh could not provide any documents or papers proving the forest area was sold under the exploitation and use rights of his family.
Minh said he had had a verbal sale agreement with Điệp.
The procedures for granting permits of forest exploitation were carried out by Điệp.
Triệu Văn Tá, Head of Lăng Chua Village, said that Minh's forest area sold to Điệp was State-owned protective forest land, making logging and exploitation strictly prohibited.
However, Điệp allegedly cut down the trees for their timber.
This protective forest area located at the Khe Khuổi Nọi upstream plays an important role in preventing flash floods, erosion and landslides in the region.
It also provides water for agricultural production and household use of hundreds of households in Trung Hà Commune.
After learning that Minh sold the forest area to Điệp who carried out logging, Lăng Chua Village authorities worked with Trung Hà Commune People's Committee to investigate.
Local authorities have warned Điệp and some related people not to fell trees in the protective forest area.
According to Tá, village authorities did not hand over any related papers on forest management to Minh. He sold part of the protective forest area for his own profit.
Additionally, when cutting down the trees, Điệp did not report to local authorities but hired some people to do the work.
Mã Doãn Lưu, Chairman of Trung Hà Commune People's Committee, confirmed the illegal deforestation incident occurred in Lăng Chua Village, saying communal authorities worked with Forest Protection Office to make a record at the scene, capturing the amount of timber and would handle the case and loggers in accordance with the law.
He also said the communal People's Committee did not receive any papers to ask permission for exploiting forest products in Lăng Chua village.
Head of Trung Hà Commune Ranger Station Trần Văn Tuyến also said the ranger station did not catch anything about Minh's forest sale and the subsequent deforestation.
The illegal deforestation incident in Lăng Chua Village happened more than two months ago but relevant agencies have not dealt with it in accordance with the law.
Tuyên Quang authorities should quickly investigate and consider the responsibilities of each individual and collective to take appropriate measures. — VNS