The Vietnamese Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai has been growing new forests and protecting existing ones in recent years to expand forest cover and improve people’s livelihoods.
Gia Lai province borders Andong Meas and O’Yadav districts in Cambodia’s Ratanakkiri province.
The province, which has the largest forest cover in the Tay Nguyen region, planted nearly 25,300ha in 2017-2020, 6.3 times its target.
In Mang Yang district’s Hra commune, the Hra Protective Forest management board allocated more than 6,300ha of forests last year to individuals, households and communities to exploit while also protecting them.
Nguyen Van Chin, head of the board, said besides planting and protecting forests, the board focuses on advocacy activities to enhance awareness of households and communities living near forests of the need to protect them.
Together with local authorities it organises advocacy activities to annually reach around 1,500 people in the commune’s 12 villages.
With these and support for illegal loggers to overcome their family’s financial difficulties, it has managed to stop the logging and make loggers forest guardians.
Duong Xuan Kiem used to be an illegal logger but is now the head of a forest protection group in the commune.
He and others used to cut down forests to sell wood to feed their families, but after receiving help from the board to stabilise their lives, they have become forest protectors, he said.
His group protects 400ha of natural forests.
Last year the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development gave him an award as an exemplary forest protector.
Seeing the good examples set by the former illegal loggers, other residents in the commune have also stopped cutting trees and are instead keen to be allotted tracts of forest for protection.
The money authorities pay them for this task helps them have a stable life.
Krong Chro district is one of the localities to do well in growing and protecting forests through advocacy.
Nguyen Lam, deputy head of its forest protection bureau, said the district organises meetings in villages to encourage people to grow trees on deforested lands.
“The new forests are growing well, creating jobs and improving people’s incomes.”
There were nearly 200 households in the district registering to grow nearly 400ha of new forests last year, according to the bureau.
Around 700 households in the district, mostly ethnic minorities, registered to plant trees on nearly 2,250ha in 2017-2019, comfortably higher than the target the province People’s Committee set the district.
The province’s Forest Protection Sub-department has petitioned the government to increase the fee paid to ethnic households for forest protection.
Gia Lai wants to increase its forest cover rate to 47.5 per cent by 2025.
It has 633,325ha of forests now, including 543,131ha of natural forests, according to the department.
But another 146,636ha of former forest lands are denuded of trees.
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK