Forest loss continues unabated

(No.2, Vol.3, Mar 2013 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

A forest near Ngoc linh – Dak Glei Nature Reserve, Kon Tum Province, Central Highlands

The most urgent task for Central Highlands provinces at the moment is to protect the forests, keeping them from further loss,’ Vietnam News Agency quoted the Central Highlands Steering Committee, a Politburo task force as saying on 3 October, 2012.
The committee proposed that the government stop exploitation of natural forest wood in the central regions in 2013 and conduct surveys to take stock of the forest situation in the region.
The committee cited analysis of 2011 satellite images to say that forest coverage in the Central Highlands had fallen to 2.66 million hectares in 2011 from 2.98 million hectares in 2006.
During the committee’s annual meeting in mid-January 2013 to review the previous year, the committee said that there were 740 forest destruction cases, damaging 756 hectares of forest in the Central Highlands in 2012. This was revealed by the government’s on-line newspaper, baodientu.chinhphu.vn on 14 January 2013.
Vietnam News Agency of 12 October, 2012 cited a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on the status of forests in the Central Highlands in 2011 to say that forest coverage in the region has fallen by 130,000 hectares in five years to 2,848 million hectares in 2011. That means only half of the region is covered by forests. Of the 130,000 hectares, 100,000 hectares was lost as the government took forest land for other purposes, mainly for growing rubber and building hydro-electricity plants. 7,390 hectares were illegally logged in the period. Another 800 hectares were lost due to fire.
Exploitation of wood for use as supporting columns for pepper trees, which are popular in the region, is another reason. Also, a significant area of forest has been taken for farming.


A truck carrying wood passes by what used
to be a pine hill and is now a farm, Dak Glei, Kon Tum Province, Central Highlands, July, 2011.

Dalat is a land for pine trees. One of the tricks investors use to get forest land for their projects in Dalat is to whittle the outer bark of pine trees. After a while the trees will be withered and die and when they die there will be reasons for people to build projects. ‘Because they know that if a project is being planned for a bald hill, public opinion won’t be as noisy as when they cut down pine trees for their project,’ said MPK, a photographer and nature activist in Dalat. In a bid to stop people from killing pine trees, MPK took photos of resin and residues of sap on pine trees and exhibited them.
‘Before they died, their wounds bled streams resin. Those are their streams of hatred blood. Sometimes I think those resin streams are the pines’ tears for people’s casualness and cruelty. Sometimes those resin drops suddenly become shiny gems to me. So I’ve decided to express these three views for people to think about,’ said MPK

Timber leaks from park
Thanh Nien, 22 April, 2012, page 2

A Mnong man searches for phone coverage on his
farm-to-be in the buffet zone of Nam Ka – Dak Lak
National Park, Dak Lak Province, Central Highlands.

More than 100 valuable timber trees, padauk, have been illegally cut down and taken in the past several months in the Yok Don National Park, in the Central Highlands, Thanh Nien reported. It was probably the biggest illegal logging case ever in the park. The trees had represented about 300 cubic metres of timber.

Forest pillaged
Lao Dong, 6 May, 2012, page 7

A bike used by forest poachers at Yok Don National Park, Dak Lak Province, Central Highlands, 10 July 2011. The spot is 500 metres away from a forest ranger station.

Photos by Na Son - Winner of First and Special Prizes of the Vietnam heritage
Photo Awards 2012

Dozen of hectares of forest in Quang Son Commune, Dak Glong District, Dac Nong Province, in the Central Highlands, were pillaged late April, according to Lao Dong. Big trees were cut down and the timber stolen using motor vehicles in broad daylight and smaller trees were burnt to make room for farming. All this just three kilometres from the commune ranger’s office.

Giang Huong or padouk, a precious kind of tree, just illegally cut at Yok Don National Park, Dak Lak Province, Central Highlands. The spot is just 500 metres from the nearest forest ranger station, yet there was no sign to say that the case had been noticed by forest rangers, 10 July, 2011.

Mission: Forest
Tien Phong, 9 January, 2013
In the article ‘Forest poachers prevail in Dak Lak’ in Tien Phong dated 9 January, reporter Hoang Thien Nga said forest was being destroyed everywhere in Dak Lak Province, Central Highlands. One deputy director of the province’s agriculture and rural development department, which is in charge of forest protection, has been disciplined and two other deputy directors have resigned due to failure in forest protection.

A motorbike without a license plate carries wood at high speed during a night July, 2011, near Yok Don National Park, Dak Lak Province, Central Highlands.

50 forest rangers will be reassigned to make it easier to deal with illegal wood processors in their localities. Many forest rangers were hospitalized after they were attacked by poachers. Local people say that by working for poachers for several days they could earn as much as working on one hectare of rice for a whole year.

If trees could scream, Part I
Lao Dong, 21 January, 2013
Krong Nang Protective Forest in Dak Lak Province, Central Highlands, is being destroyed, according to Lao Dong of 21 January.
Villagers living by the forest say they rear buffaloes, mainly to serve illegal lodgers in transporting wood cut from the forest. As the author of the article went into the forest, he saw around ten trees with diameters from 0.6 m to 1.2 m cut down for wood. The trees were processed on site into round and rectangular logs.

If trees could scream, Part II
Tien Phong, 22 January, 2013
A series of cases of forest destruction were reported recently in Yok Don National Park, Central Highlands. The park is one of the biggest forests in the country.
15 căm xe and two big giáng hương, both which are precious wood trees, were logged in January.
In 2012, Yok Don, 113,000 hectares in area, saw 610 cases of forest law violations and confiscated 509 cubic metres of wood.

If trees could scream, Part III
Vnexpress.net, 17 July, 2012
A pine forest by National Road 14 in Dak Nong Province, Central Highlands, well known as one of the best-looking forests in the highland, is facing death as local people encroach to build houses and farms. About 20 hectares have been damaged. Many pine trees are injected with chemical to kill them so that the land underneath can be taken easily.

Compiled by Le Duc Tan, photos by Na Son
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