Pine trees have died en masse at a construction site for a golf course project with an investment of VND1.1 trillion (US$46.9 million) in Gia Lai Province, located in Vietnam’s Central Highlands region.
While weeds blanketed the forest floors in other parts of Gia Lai’s Dak Doa District owing to torrential rains, all of the pine trees on a local hill, originally famous for its other-worldly pink grass, have died at the same time.
This pine forest started turning brown and dry following the implementation of the golf course project developed by Vietnamese conglomerate FLC, 67-year-old local man Ksor Han, who had participated in planting the forest more than 40 years ago, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Sunday.
|Pine trees turn brown at the construction site of a golf course project in Dak Doa District, Gia Lai Province, Vietnam. Photo: H.C.D. / Tuoi Tre|
The Dak Doa golf course project has a total investment of VND1.1 trillion, covering an area of 174 hectares in the district, including nearly 156 hectares of forest land already allowed to have its use changed.
Its operation period is projected to last 50 years.
People have not been allowed to enter the hill included in the project since last year’s dry season as the developer cordoned it off to carry out construction, according to Han.
|Pine tree trunks left on the ground at the construction site of a golf course project in Dak Doa District, Gia Lai Province, Vietnam. Photo: H.C.D. / Tuoi Tre|
Han recounted that when the golf course project was announced, an official affirmed that the pine trees would be relocated to other places using technology.
“Only when the project was implemented did I see the contradiction,” said Han.
Han compared the developer’s method of relocating the pine trees to that of illegal loggers.
“In recent years, there has been a rise in theft of tree trunks in the pine forest, with thieves digging around the roots, then taking advantage of the night to transport the trees away for sale,” Han said.
|A pile of dead pine tree trunks at the construction site of a golf course project in Dak Doa District, Gia Lai Province, Vietnam. Photo: H.C.D. / Tuoi Tre|
“The company [FLC] is doing just the same.
“The only difference is that its workers log the pine trees in broad daylight.
“It’s no question why the pine trees have died en masse.”
The People’s Committee of Gia Lai requested that FLC suspend the relocation of the pine trees in recent months, according to an official.
|A bird’s-eye view of the construction site of a golf course project in Dak Doa District, Gia Lai Province, Vietnam. Photo: H.C.D. / Tuoi Tre|
The provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development also inspected the relocation process to investigate the massive dieback.
Meanwhile, the conclusion of the Central Inspection Committee issued on July 14 showed that the Party cell at the People’s Committee of Gia Lai had “made dishonest reports to superior agencies regarding the proposal of the investment principle for the Dak Doa golf course project.”