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Thousand-year-old ironwood tree in Thanh Hoa a precious genetic resource

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An old ironwood tree (Erythrophleum fordii) in the central province of Thanh Hoa still exists despite many attempts by illegal loggers to fell it as it has been protected within a national forest since the early 90s.

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The tree has preserved genetic resources, helping to restore ironwood forests.  

Ben En National Park is a transitional area between the northwest region and northern Truong Son Mountains. It is also a transitional area in the coastal plains of Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh. 

With low mountainous landforms intermingled with limestone and lake systems, there is rich and diverse fauna and flora. 

This is also the center of ironwood trees, or Lim Xanh, as called by locals. However, vast old Lim Xanh forests have disappeared, replaced by young generation forests.

Luckily, the ancient Lim Xanh tree still exists. Le Xuan Thai from Ben En National Park said the tree is the treasure of Ben En. 

No one knows how old the tree is, but locals say it is nearly one thousand years old, because old men in the village said the tree has been there for many generations.

“The tree is valuable to us because forest rangers and local people had to shed their blood to protect it in the last years of the last century,” Thai said. 

According to Thai, a survey in 2013 showed the tree was 43 meters tall and had a trunk diameter of 1.78 meters. The tree trunk is lumpy with two sharp cuts caused by illegal loggers who tried to fell the tree.

In 1991-1992, when the forests were seriously damaged by loggers, Ben Em National Park was established and a forest ranger station was set up in a place not far from the Lim Xanh tree to protect it.

According to Le Dinh Phuong, deputy director of Ben Em, the tree has been in danger many times. Ten years ago, a group of illegal loggers attempted to fell the tree and they were only stopped when forest rangers and the district police sent staff to the site.

Three years ago, a branch of the tree suddenly burst into flames at night and tens of forest rangers had to work hard through the night to save the tree.

Phuong said there are many valuable trees which have precious wood in Ben Em, but Lim Xanh is still the treasure of Ben Em as it preserves genetic resources.

More and more ironwood trees have been planted in Ben Em with seeds from Lim Xanh and the forests. There are now 1,000 hectares of ironwood trees and five hectares of planted forests in the national park.



Source: Tien Phong - VietNamNet

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