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Vietnamese enterprises slammed for destroying forests
Publication Date : 13-08-2013
Thousands of hectares of forest in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong have been devastated due to the irresponsibility of local officials working on agriculture and forestry projects.
Director of the province's Forestry Department Do Ngoc Duyen said recent land-use inspections found several officials had been irresponsible in ensuring appropriate use of forest land.
"On inspecting 10 projects, the provincial department of agriculture and rural development found nearly 2,000 hectares of forested land had been devastated and another 3,000 hectares had been illegally appropriated," said Duyen.
During the past several years many private enterprises have signed joint venture contracts with the state-owned Quang Tin Forestry Co Ltd to implement forestry protection and rubber tree cultivation projects in Tuy Duc District.
However, the province has raised concerns over many of the enterprises after discovering that they failed to protect natural forests.
Despite the concerns and warnings from authorities, many of the enterprises continue to appropriate and misuse large areas of forested land.
The HCM City-based Bao Chau Co Ltd and Dai Phat Loc Co and Hiep Thanh Co-operative in southern Binh Phuoc Province appropriated 177, 400, and 291 hectares of forested land respectively.
The province's police last month prosecuted the former director and five officers of the Quang Tin Forestry Co Ltd for irresponsibility resulting in the loss of 1,334ha of forest.
According to police sources, the accused participated in agro-forestry production projects with nine private enterprises from 2007-10.
Not only did the enterprises appropriate forested land to carry out logging activities but they also used illegally appropriated forest land and sold it for a profit.
The province's police are tracking down Bao Chau Co Ltd director Pham Thi Thu Hien for using fake land-use right certificates to sell a huge area of forested land that was rented out to local rubber tree farmers. Hien fraudulently acquired 8 billion dong (US$385,000) from local residents.
Similarly, the director of Pham Quoc Co has been accused of appropriating 3 billion dong ($144,000) fraudulently after having sold 196 hectares of forested land to local residents.
According to the provincial department of agriculture and rural development, out of nearly 400,000ha of total forested land in the province, over one tenth have been leased to local enterprises to grow rubber trees or as protected forest land.
However, while the rubber projects continue to fail to bring profits, the province's green forests have been devastated.
"Despite having caused serious damage to forests, none of the enterprises except the Bao Chau and Pham Quoc companies have so far been subject to criminal investigations", said Duyen.