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Vietnam's agriculture ministry to overhaul logging activities policy
Publication Date : 29-07-2013
The rapid decline in the amount of forest cover and its quality has prompted Vietnam's agriculture ministry to overhaul their forestry management policies, particularly towards logging activities.
However, the ministry is still in a quandary about whether or not it should issue a complete ban on commercial logging in natural forests, or simply scale these operations back. These two alternatives were discussed when the ministry met with the State Steering Committee on forest protection and development in Ha Noi last week.
The opponents of a complete ban on commercial logging have called for a more comprehensive protection regime on natural forests by blocking access, as this would deny loggers the opportunity to log in prohibited areas and would therefore halt the rapid losses.
However, this measure would cause a decline in local authority revenues and cause problems for commercial logging firms as well as the one million households and individuals which manage the two million hectares of natural forest in the country.
One committee member also noted the counter effect: once the supplies of legally felled timber had diminished, pressure to restart illegal logging would intensify.
Another measure suggested would be to limit the logging by introducing a set of criteria to narrow down who were actually credible loggers and which areas would be open for logging. However, to enforce this would necessitate the introduction of new effective management mechanisms. In addition, to put said mechanisms into place would put a serious dent in the state budget and also require the reform of state run forests, which would interfere with existing policies.
Strengthening the management of logging at other stages of the supply chain was also suggested, as businesses involved in the felling or processing of illegally felled timber should be prosecuted.
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, who chaired the meeting, emphasised the urgent need to come up with new management procedures to find a more effective way of protecting and developing forests.
The long-term aim for 2020 is for the quality of natural forests to be lifted to a level that can provide sufficient supplies of timber for domestic needs, which so far has relied on imports.
According to the latest field survey by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the total area of natural forests in the country is 10.28 million hectares, of which, those that are open for logging cover 4.3 million hectares, mainly in the Central Highlands, northeastern region and the northern part of the central region.
It is estimated that current reserves of exploitable timber in natural forests could total around 350 million cubic metres.