A local resident northern Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province was given permission to chop trees in a protected forest due to the management oversight of the forest protection unit.
More than eight hectares of protected forest in An Sinh Commune, Dong Trieu Town has been cleared by Vu Dinh Mao, 56, to make space for farming activities.
Protected forests mitigate and prevent the impact of a natural hazards, including erosion, landslide, and flooding, on people and their assets in mountainous areas.
Such forests typically cover the sloping areas between endangered or exposed assets.
Local authorities were not aware of the situation until it was reported by local citizens.
The An Sinh Commune People’s Committee and forest protection division later conducted an examination of the forest and discovered that Mao had already planted new trees on five out of eight hectares of the forest at the time of the inspection.
He said the piece of land was previously transferred to him from local resident Bui Quang Nam.
A probe by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper revealed that the People’s Committee in Dong Tieu Town had authorized a local named Tran Van Tri to use 14.6 hectares of the forest for 50 years.
However, the document does not show the exact date of the decision.
Nam then bought approximately five hectares from Tri in early 2017 and later transferred it to Mao.
Pham Van Trien, head of the forest protection department in Dong Tieu, admitted that the incident was caused by the oversight of officers tasked with managing the forest.
They did not pay attention to the fact that the area became a protected forest in 2001, Trien added.
This means that local residents no longer have the rights to exploit the forest, despite previous approval from authorities.
The officers responsible have been transferred to another unit due to their error, Trien added.