Vietnam witnessing serious deforestation for mountain fields

Since 2016, the Prime Minister has resolutely forbidden the transfer from poor natural forests into agricultural land. The reality, however, shows that many forest areas in the South Central, Central Highlands, and Southwest regions have gradually been destroyed for the sake of crop growing.

Vietnam witnessing serious deforestation for mountain fields ảnh 1

The forest trees that are dried up in mass in Vinh Son Commune. (Photo: SGGP)

Lately, Sai Gon Giai Phong (SGGP) Newspaper has published two articles on the loss of nearly 17ha forest in Vinh Son Commune of Binh Thanh District in Binh Dinh Province, normally under the management of Song Kon Forestry Co. Ltd. and the Management Board of Vinh Thanh Forest. This loss land is at Zone 124 of the restored forest, now mostly turning to mountain fields of cassava and acacia melaleuca.

In 2014, Binh Dinh Province People’s Committee assigned Song Kon Forestry Co. Ltd. to reforest 26ha at the zones of 191 (sited in Vinh Hao Commune) and 144, 145, 110, 123, 124 (in Vinh Son Commune), with the expense of nearly VND1.5 billion (US$64,300). Since 2020, the company has discovered various cases of tree destroying over a surface area of about 9.16ha. However, they did not handle those cases thoroughly.

For a long time, residents have silently poisoned newly grown forest trees via herbicide or peeled the bark off these trees. Since they choose to do this late at night or on days off, it is rather challenging to detect, said Dang Ba Thang – Deputy Head of Forest Protection and Management Office under Song Kon Forestry Co. Ltd.

Head of Vinh Thanh District Forest Protection Division Dang Ba Quang stated that the illegal transfer of forest land into crop fields happens mostly in Vinh Son Commune, creating nearly 2,000 small fields bordering the natural forest year by year, which is extremely hard to discover. To make the situation worse, illegal loggers are always felling trees in this 10,000-hectare forest, creating yet another kind of pressure to the company.

Another problem is overlapping responsibilities in forest management and protection. Head of the Management Board of Vinh Thanh Forest Tran Phuoc Phi admitted that out of the 160-hectare protection forest under its management, many have been illegally occupied by local households in Tu An Commune for crop growing. Another 32,000 hectares also within its responsibility has not yet been granted the management and protection right.

Chairman of Vinh Thanh District People’s Committee Bui Tan Thanh shared that the most challenging problem at the moment is finance for measuring land to issue a certificate of forest protection and use rights for units in charge. The district has proposed to use the provincial budget for this task, costing about VND30-40 billion ($1.3-1.7 million), followed by land use right certificate issuance for residents and units in charge of forest protection.

The district is also going to monitor forest surface area more strictly via increases in patrol teams, installation of signs and post at borders, and requests of households staying next to these forest areas signing a pledge not encroach the forest. More importantly, serious violation cases will be prosecuted as a warning to the community.

Moreover, it is necessary to aid residents to earn their living legally and introduce policies to mobilize cooperation of native inhabitants in protecting forests.

Statistics from functional units reveal that in the past 3 years, 24ha of the forests bordering the provinces of Gia Lai and Binh Dinh have been encroached. Since 2017, there have been 42 cases of violating the Forest Law. 5 of them were prosecuted for illegal forest land encroachment.