‘Pyinkado’ forest being cleared for sugarcane cultivation

Hundreds of hectares of Pyinkado forest land are in threat of disappearing as indiscriminate logging and clearing to make way for sugarcane plantations in the central province of Khanh Hoa is now gaining ground.

This sugarcane field used to be part of the 600 hectare Pyinkado forest in Khanh Hoa Province (Photo: SGGP)

The primeval Pyinkado forest (Xylia Xylocarpa species) is located in Ninh Tay Commune of Ninh Hoa Town, covering nearly 600 hectares, of which 200 hectares has already been cut down. The forest is under the management board of the Ninh Hoa protective forest.

The only variety of tree in the forest is the Pyinkado tree (Cam Xe in Vietnamese) which is a rare and valuable hardwood tree.

According to local residents, deforestation began a long time ago and is on the increase with demand to clear more land for sugarcane plantation growing by the day. Vast areas of Pyinkado forest land has been logged and cleared either for sugarcane plantation or for sale to sugarcane growers.

Earlier, one hectare of land for sugarcane cultivation was priced at VND50-60 million. The rate has now doubled or tripled in just two recent years due to high demand for sugarcane.
 
The forest has been chopped down mostly in Suoi Mit village, Bung River and Tuong village. Tuong village is the hardest hit with at least tens of deforestation spots. In some places, 3-4 hectares of the forest has been destroyed for sugarcane cultivation.

A very common way to destroy a Pyinkado forest is by using a knife to slash off the tree roots and fill the grooves with salt water or a chemical which will eventually dry out and kill the trees.

Groups of people enter the forest and chop down trees for a small amount of money. One such group of 15-20 persons from the southern province of Tay Ninh said they had been paid by some individuals to chop down trees in the forest.

About 200 of the 600 hectare forest area has already been destroyed and this process is continuing unchecked. However, related authorities have not yet taken effective measures to protect the precious Pyinkado forest.

Worse still, several certificates of land use rights have been granted to some individuals in the protective forest.

The management board of the Ninh Hoa protective forest has often proposed to crack down on illegal encroachers and drive them out of the forest; however nothing has been done yet.

With an insufficient amount of human resource, the board has been unable to protect the forest from further devastation.

By Van Ngoc – Translated by Hai Mien

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