The man who brings back green to barren hill in Kỳ Sơn District

January 22, 2021 - 07:30
While many locals destroy the forest for timber and clear land for farming, a Vietnamese man has worked tirelessly to bring back green to the barren hill.


Vừ Vả Chống a resident from Huổi Tụ Commune in central province of Nghệ An’s Kỳ Sơn District consider each tree as one of his friends. Photo

NGHỆ AN — While many others destroy forests for timber and clear land for farming, a man in central Việt Nam has worked tirelessly to bring back green to a once barren hill.

Vừ Vả Chống lives in Huổi Tụ Commune in Nghệ An Province’s Kỳ Sơn District and has planted pơ mu (fokienia) and samu (Chinese fir) trees and inspired other local residents to follow his example.

Twenty years have passed and he now has thousands of pơ mu and samu trees.

Chống recalled his life as a young man. 

“It was in 1984, I undertook military service at Kỳ Sơn District Military Command.  My comrades and I were assigned to deal with illegal loggers at pơ mu forest in the border area many times," he said.

Looking at the hundred-year-old pơ mu and samu trees that had been cut down, he could not help but feel sad. He hoped that he could do something to stop them from disappearing.

Pơ mu is known as a precious species and has been in Việt Nam’s Red Book list of endangered species since 1996.

It is heavily exploited for its unique smell and beautiful wood grain.

After he completed military service, Chống asked local authorities to allocate him Au Tiên – a barren hill - for production.

In the first three years, he only planted tea trees and raised chickens. With the money gained from selling tea and chickens, he bought pơ mu and samu seedlings. But he failed in his first attempt.

“The first batch of trees was a huge failure as half of the 3,000 seedlings died,” he told Pháp luật Thành phố HCM (HCM City Law) newspaper.

However, he did not give up and went to neighbouring Tây Sơn Commune to learn about planting techniques.

He knew the reason for his failure – the holes he made were too small and the soil was not soft enough.

In addition, he needed to maintain moisture for the plants.

His efforts have paid off as the trees grew up very well.

Now Chống has more than 6,000 pơ mu and samu trees planted on a hill.

Samu is valued for durable wood as well as its resistance to termites, rot, and numerous fungi.

He boasted that many tourists have visited Au Tiên Hill to enjoy the forest. Children in the localities often come here for parties.

Au Tiên Hill which once a barren hill has become a tourist attraction thanks to efforts by Vừ Vả Chống,. Photo

Chống said many people had offered him large sums of money for the wood, but he refused them. 

“I’ve planted and tended the trees for nearly 20 years. I consider each tree a friend. It is very sad to sell them,” he said.

Dành Bá Lồng, vice chairman of Huồi Tụ Commune’s People’s Committee, said Chống’s model of planting pơ mu trees could be expanded in the commune to help re-plant the forest and improve the incomes of local residents who wanted to use them for sustainable commercial purposes.

According to Lồng, afforestation in Huồi Tụ is not easy because most of the local people are of the Mông ethnic minority and poverty has been lingering for many generations.

The land which is 1,200 metres above the sea level makes it difficult to grow any plant, he said.

Inspired by Chống's success, other locals have started planting trees, Long said. 

Many households such as Vừ Nhìa Hùa's and Lầy Y No's in Huồi Mụ Village and Vừ Giống Chớ's in Huồi Đun Village have planted from 1,000-2,000 pơ mu and samu trees. They have also cultivated Shan tea in combination with raising chickens and cows which brings good income and helps alleviate poverty.

“Chống doesn’t only supply seedlings for local people at affordable prices and but also gives them instructions on how to plant them properly,” Lồng said. VNS