Companies fail to manage, Central Highlands forests suffer

Central Highlands provinces in recent years have assigned forests and land to various production or tourism companies, but many have allowed trees to be destroyed and forestry land encroached upon.

  Forests assigned to a company in Lam Dong got cut down

Forests assigned to a company in Lam Dong got cut down

Dak Lak province over the past 10 years has allocated and leased thousands of hectares of forests to enterprises that vouched to execute eco projects while protecting and planting trees. However, negligent management has led many forest areas to be destroyed or encroached upon by locals.

For example, Da Sar JSC was assigned more than 116.5 ha of forest land by the People’s Committee of Lam Dong province to implement an eco-tourism project.

However, since then, there has been no sign of production activity. Instead, 45.8 ha of forest land assigned to them has been lost, and timber volume also down to 6,158m3. Many areas have been encroached upon by local farmers for a long time, but this company has not taken measures to prevent it.

Dak Lak Provincial People’s Committee assigned 84 agriculture and forestry projects to private and joint stock companies, including 45 agroforestry projects, with a total area of more than 37,500 ha.

Also, there are 30 projects aimed to convert forests to rubber tree plantations, with a total area of 21,000 ha. As of now, these project owners have turned a blind eye to people using more than 5,400 ha of land to grow crops.

The Forest Protection Department of Dak Lak province is currently investigating four forestry companies that let forests get cut down and forest land encroached upon on a large scale, seemingly due to negligence.

Gia Lai province since 2008 has granted 17 companies the rights to implement 44 rubber planting projects on land lacking natural forests, with an area of more than 32,000 ha, of which more than 25,500ha was already covered with rubber trees.

However, the rubber trees could not survive due to poor fertility and lack of care. Local people took advantage of the abandoned forests to illegally use about 50ha of land to grow crops.

According to an official from Dak Lak Forest Protection Department, this lack of care was probably because prices for industrial rubber has hit a low in recent years. Additionally, many companies do not have the capacity to manage and protect forests properly.

In light of the situation, the province from 2017 has seized a number of agricultural and forestry projects from various companies.

Furthermore, Dak Nong Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has asked 11 companies who were assigned 3,900ha of forest to compensate VND139 billion (US$6 million) for letting 1,200 ha of forest destroyed.

Meanwhile, 53 companies in Lam Dong still owe the State more than VND241 billion (US$10 million) for allowing deforestation and environmental damage on their property.

In another development, many project owners in Gia Lai province tried to request project conversion after failing with rubber trees.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on November 11 and 12 held a National Conference on the management of special-use and protection forests in Da Lat City.

According to the General Department of Forestry, there are more than 14.6 million ha of forest nationwide, more than 10.2 million of which is natural forest. Special-use forests account for 2.16 million ha, and protection forests 4.64 million ha. Moreover, 4,803 ha of special-use and protection forests were planted across Vietnam in 2020.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan at the conference called for localities to conserve existing forests while refraining from granting permits for exploitation in protection and special-use forests.

By staff writers - Translated by Tan Nghia

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