Vietnam’s Central Highland forests, some of the most untouched landscapes in the country, are fast disappearing.
According to a recent survey by the General Department of Forestry (GDF), the Central Highlands lost 358,700 hectares of forest between 2008 and 2014 as a result of illegal logging, reports Tuoi Tre. For the vast majority of us who don’t understand hectares, that’s roughly five times the area of Singapore.
One particular hotspot for the Central Highlands’ illegal deforestation is Yok Don National Park in Dak Lak province. In the first nine months of 2015, the country’s largest national park lost an estimated 600 rare trees, or 300 cubic meters of timber, according to an anonymous leader from the GDF.
While government policy in Dak Lak province has allowed the collection of salvaged wood and fallen trees from storms since 2013, Deputy Director of the Rangers Bureau Nguyen Huu Thien argues that locals are abusing the law to harvest rare timber. In the first 10 months of 2015 alone, Dak Lak province recorded 1,559 forestry law violations.
Though there are dozens of regeneration projects are underway – nearby Lam Dong province has plans to rejuvenate 96,500 hectares of land, while Dak Lak aims to fill 44,500 hectares with trees – these slow-moving efforts are not doing enough to combat the efforts of illegal loggers. Currently, the Central Highlands region boasts as many as 801 regeneration projects tasked with replanting 226,000 hectares of forest, however few of these efforts have actually come to fruition.
Article by Saigoneer