A total of 66 Fokienia trees, all over 100 years old, in a protected area in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Nam have been chopped down by loggers while competent authorities have failed to capture those behind the illegal logging.
Le Tri Thanh, vice-chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, led a group of inspectors to the destroyed area of forest on Wednesday in Le Dee Commune, Nam Giang District.
According to the observation of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters, up to 66 ‘pomu trees’ (Fokienia) between 0.5 and one meter in diameter and a couple hundred years old were lopped, while several tree trunks were chopped into small pieces and left on the ground.
Pomu is a genus of cupressaceae. In Vietnam, it is known as a valuable wood because of its specific aroma and beautiful grain.
Because termites are not attracted to the wood, it is often used in art work and household items.
Pomu has been listed as an endangered species in Vietnam and in the Vietnam Red Book since 1996.
The part of the forest where the logging took place belonged to a restricted area and was rather close to the usual patrol routes of local forest protection officers.
The case is a serious and large-scale violation of environmental protection law, Thanh asserted, adding that loggers have recently become more reckless and blatant.
The incident is being probed in an urgent manner and stern penalties are expected to be imposed on the individuals and organizations responsible, the official continued.
According to an official from the Quang Nam Department of Police, officers, following an extended investigation, discovered a warehouse packed with Fokienia wood in Laos on the border with Vietnam.
Lao authorities stated that the wood had been transferred from Vietnam, the police official said.
Vietnamese authorities have also sought coordination with their Lao counterparts in their hunt for illegal loggers, Vice-Chairman Thanh added.
Local officers take responsibility
A working session regarding the case was organized by the inspectorate on Wednesday, during which Colonel Nguyen Dang Chung, deputy commander of the provincial Border Guard, took responsibility.
Do Tuan, director of the board that manages the forest area, stated that he would help competent authorities find the culprits, as part of his liability for failing to prevent the situation.
“If any of my officers is found abetting the violators, I will personally take the blame,” Tuan asserted.
Meanwhile, Phan Tuan, head of the Quang Nam Forest Protection Department, said that his officers had not been thorough in their management and patrol missions.
Focus will first be directed at identifying those who carried out the illegal logging.
Then, relevant individuals will be determined and sanctioned, said Colonel Nguyen Van Loi, director of the provincial Department of Police.