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Deforestation haunts Vietnam’s Central Highlands

Friday, June 23, 2017, 18:00 GMT+7
Deforestation haunts Vietnam’s Central Highlands
Severe deforestation in Quang Son Commune, Dak G’Long District, located in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong

Countless hectares of forest in Vietnam’s Central Highlands are being destroyed as the result of industrial and agricultural activities conducted by local businesses and residents at such a rate that authorities are unable to prevent the situation.

Businesses, residents, and even immigrants in the Central Highlands region are exploiting the local forests for its natural resources.

Meanwhile competent authorities have been unable to manage the excessive exploitation, with some even caught abetting the harmful activities.

According to the observation of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters this year, a large area of forest along National Highway 14 in Tuy Duc and Dak Song Districts in Dak Nong Province has vanished.

A local resident stated that the area was cleared to make space for coffee plantations.

“The soil here is perfect for the agricultural activity. First people just chopped down a small area of the forest, but eventually the entire area was replaced with coffee trees,” he elaborated.

In Quang Son Commune, Dak G’Long District, chopping down trees and burning forest to make way for reservoirs and farms have become a common sight.

According to Le Cong Truong, head of the Dak Nong Department of Forest Protection, four officers were suspended for their oversight in a recent case of deforestation.

Against the backdrop of severe damage to local forests, the provincial Department of Police has begun to slap penalties on those responsible.

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Immigrants fell trees for wood in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Records of the Dak Nong Party Committee show that the province previously was home to over 254,950 hectares of forest before the management of these areas was transferred to local businesses and residents.

Shortly after, between 2013 and 2015, about 27,000 hectares were cleared.

The provincial Part Committee has established eight special groups of officers to boost their ability to protect local trees.

Le Dien, Dak Nong’s Party chief, called out corrupt officials as a primary cause of rapid deforestation across the province.

In one case, the former chief of police in Dak Song District, Colonel Le An Tinh, was caught handing dozens of hectares of forest to locals for the establishment of pepper plantations.

Another case involved the arrest of Pham Xuan Sang, an ex-official at the provincial Department of Police, for violating the law on forest protection, Dien elaborated.

Leaders of several forestry companies have also been charged for clearing thousands of hectares of forest under their management.

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