VietNamNet Bridge - The vast forests in the Central Highlands are still being cut down though local authorities have vowed to prevent illegal loggers.

The Kon Tum provincial People’s Committee on June 28 organized a press conference about forest protection and management in the province. 

However, a lot of questions about solutions to protect the forests after the Prime Minister ordered to close natural forests were unanswered.

At the press conference, Nguyen Huu Hai, deputy chair of the province, only showed some general solutions to the deforestation, saying that the local authorities would ‘strengthen propaganda; reorganize the forestry sector; request forest owners to take responsibility for the damaged forests and check all wood processing workshops’.

According to Bui Thanh Binh, chief secretariat of the Kon Tum provincial People’s Committee, only 603,000 hectares of forests, including 546,000 hectares of natural forests had been left by 2015. 

Meanwhile, in 2011, Kon Tum still had 650,300 hectares. This means that 50,000 hectares of forests in the province were lost just within five years.

Binh said the police and forest rangers have discovered 264 violation cases so far this year and put 8 cases into criminal prosecution. 

Some deforestation cases have become ‘famous’ including the one in Ward No 474 in Mang Canh commune of Kon Plong district, in the Dak Uy special-use forest of Dak Ha district and in Mang La SFE.

The vast forests in the Central Highlands are still being cut down though local authorities have vowed to prevent illegal loggers.
Local newspapers have recently discovered a serious deforestation case in the forestland put under the management of Dak Glei Forestry Company.

Binh admitted that though the provincial authorities have released legal documents to instruct local agencies to apply necessary measures, the forests in the Central Highlands are still eyed by illegal loggers.

Meanwhile, Gia Lai residents say that the forests in the Central Highlands are being exploited by hydropower firms. 

Provincial authorities have voiced their concern about the development of too many hydropower projects which will bring threats to the forests and ecosystem.

After 30-4 Gia Lai Company stopped implementing the Suoi Say 1, 2 hydropower plant projects (which were designed to use 25 hectares of forests), the Gia Lai provincial People’s Committee has sent a document to the Government Office expressing its protest against the Vinh Son 2 hydropower project. 

According to the committee, if implemented, the hydropower project would appropriate 265 hectares of forests in Kon Chu Rang Natural Reserve.

Prior to that, the provincial authorities also protested against Son Lang 2 which would affect 287 hectares of forests and Son Lang 3 which would affect 3.9 hectares.

Do Quang Tung, director of the Yok Don National Park in Dak Lak province, said in principle, forest owners must take responsibility for the forests damaged. However, in fact, they do not have sufficient capability and the right to protect the forests.