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Highlands deforestation continues as forest rangers lose control

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The forests in Central Highlands have been disappearing at a rapid rate amid the helplessness of forest management units. In many ‘hot spots’, forests have been cleared, although they still exist on paper.

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According to the Central Highlands Steering Committee, 209,000 hectares of forests under the management of districts’ and communes’ people’s committees have been devastated in the last few years. 

The devastated forest area under state-owned forestry companies’ management is 87,000 hectares. The figures are 25,000 hectares for forests managed by households, 23,000 hectares by economic organizations and 21,000 hectares by armed services. 

People’s committees at different levels and protective forest management units have lost the most.

Pham Hoa Dung, director of Nam Tay Nguyen Forestry Company, told the press days ago that about 30 people were holding their ground in the deep forests in the wards of 1500 and 1504 of Quang Truc commune, where they had cleared forests for cultivation.

According to Dung, the deforestation started on November 30, 2016. However, though the appropriate agencies quickly discovered the case, they could not discharge the illegal loggers because it was too crowded. At first, only 1.2 hectares of forests were cleared. But the figure rose to 16.3 hectares.

The Hop Tien Cooperative in Quang Son commune in Dak G’long district has had difficulty dealing with 125 households which have encroached on the forest area that the cooperative leases from Dak Nong province. 

According to Nguyen Anh Duc, director of the cooperative, at first, only three households visited the forest to hunt for animals and pick fruit. Later, 125 households came, clearing 218 hectares of natural forest to set up a village and cultivate crops on the cleared land. 

“Five officers of the cooperative and one forest ranger were injured by 30 people in the village with guns and knives,” he said.

“It is nearly impossible to drive the people out of the forest because they are crowded with people,” he complained.

On April 28, in the presence of military forces, police and forest rangers, 17 people were driving trucks, with two drills and knives and scimitars, to a forested area only 70 meters away from the check-point station. 

Senior lieutenant colonel Nguyen Van Thuyen, head of the Quang Son National Defence Economic Unit, said the illegal loggers might receive backing from the criminal world.

Meanwhile, many forest owners are powerless amid the deforestation. The Dak Nong provincial authorities have discovered that since 2008, the Duc Hoa Forestry Company in Dak Son district has lost 2,600 hectares of forest, but the company has reported a loss of only 67 hectares.


Source: Thien Nhien - VietNamNet

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