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Dong Nai opens forests to develop tourism

The southern Dong Nai province is seeking financial resources to develop and preserve natural forests.

Dong Nai provincial authorities in mid-February assassed the value of special-use, protective and natural forests.



Lo Thi Hien, director of Vuon Xoai Eco Tourism in Bien Hoa City said the company plans to lease 200 hectares of forests in Vinh Cuu district to develop a safari.

“We have prepared capital and animals well and will implement soon after we fulfill procedures,” Hien said.

Besides Vuon Xoai, many other enterprises have come to Dong Nai recently to seek investment opportunities.

Leasing forests will help ease the burden on the local budget. When the income of forest guards increases, they will devote themselves to forest protection and development.

The Coi JSC plans to lease hundreds of hectares of forestland to develop tourism. VinGroup and FLC, the largest real estate developers, are also planning to implement large tourism projects in Dong Nai.

According to Duong Minh Binh, chair of Cong Dong Tourism Consultancy and Development, Dong Nai has great unexploited potential for tourism development, especially community tourism such biking, contemplating and bathing on Tri An Reservoir.

As Dong Nai is adjacent to HCM City, it can easily attract travelers who come there to relax on weekend.

Dong Nai has nearly 170,000 hectares of forestry land, including special-use, protective and plantation forests.

As Dong Nai forests are protected vmwell, the biodiversity is rich, suitable to ecotourism development.

According to Vo Van Chanh, deputy chair of Dong Nai province, leasing forests will help ease the burden on the local budget. When the income of forest guards increases, they will devote themselves to forest protection and development.

However, some experts warned that if forestland cannot be managed well when leasing forests to businesses, this will have adverse impact on forest conservation.

According to PanNature, initiatives on diversifying financial sources to develop forests are applied, from paying for forest environment services to developing ecotourism, and leasing forest environment and growing herbs. However, this has stirred controversy.

Nguyen Quoc Dung from the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute said the income from leasing forest environment remains modest. At Ba Vi National Park, the income from forest environment leasing is VND800 million, just 4 percent of income from ecotourism.

At Phong Nha-Ke Bang, only VND1 billion is collected each year from Thien Duong Cave leasing, while the annual income from tourism is VND300 billion.

Dang Hung Vo, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, warned about the ‘public asset appropriation’ or ‘green grabbing’ if there is no reasonable mechanism.

Investors may overexploit natural resources for commercial purposes while ignoring the task of forest protection. Meanwhile, forest owners and investors may join hands to lease forests at prices much lower than the real value. 

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