Chairing a nationwide teleconference on October 14, the PM lauded the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, agencies and localities for protecting and expanding forest coverage. The forestry value rose an average of 6.75 percent while forest wood cultivation increased three-fold and wood export hit $7.3 billion.
He expressed his concern over illegal logging in the Central Highlands due to loose management and irresponsibility of several officials and cadres.
According to the MARD, there were 14.37 million ha of forests nationwide in 2016, up 315,826ha from 2015. However, forest coverage in the Central Highlands fell by 3,170ha annually to more than 2.55 million ha in 2016.
From 2012-2017, as many as 4,218ha of forests were cut down illegally, accounting for 11 percent of the total lost via legal violations and forest-use change. In the first nine months this year, 1,697 cases of illegal logging were discovered, 757 of them were in the Central Highlands. Up to 418ha of forests were damaged in the region, up 53 percent year-on-year from 2016.
In the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong alone, 225ha of forests were destroyed in nine months, up 99ha from 2016.
About future tasks, the PM asked departments and agencies to closely follow the Resolution on sustainable forest protection and development adopted by the 12th National Party Congress, considering it as an important solution to create jobs, improve local income and raise forest coverage by 42 percent by 2020.
He requested continuing to shut down natural forest gates, strictly monitor projects on forest-use change in line with Decree No.13 of the Secretariat and the PM’s directions, suspend changing natural forest use to cultivation of industrial and agricultural trees and construction of small hydropower plants, among others.
Localities were required to direct inspecting, investigating and dealing with violations in line with the law and free migration, especially in the Central Highlands.
The PM asked for determinedly revoking licenses, halting socio-economic projects that fail to fulfil forestation duty and pay forest environment fees, particularly in the region.