The answer is yes, if each of us is "startled", to stop and start over. Do not use the sacred wood of the forest. Do not destroy the forest for the purpose of economic development.
Central Vietnam has never suffered such loss and pain as it has now. Within two weeks, it suffered consecutive terrible storms and floods. In the provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien – Hue, it rained heavily, the water rose to the roof. More than 130 people died and nearly 20 others are missing. The loss of lives and property of the people cannot be measured.
The question that torments people's hearts: ‘Why?'
In the past, flooding was a very happy season for people in the central region. Once a year, my villagers waited for the flood to see rivers water overflowing the fields, bringing in alluvium. Flood used to be the season for fish and shrimp to proliferate. But now, no one in the region wants to see the flooding season.
Relatives and patients in Le Thuy hospital, in Le Thuy district, in Quang Binh receive relief supplies. Photo: Thanh Tung
Natural disasters always exist, but we should try to answer the question: "Why" in the past few decades, storms and floods have been getting more intense. Climate change is often blamed. But where is climate change from? Is it true that humans cause it?
There have been many explanations for the devastation caused by floods and landslides in recent years in the central region in particular and the country as a whole. But no matter how you explain, there is the fact that no one can deny that the Forest Mother is no longer able to protect the Delta child, when the coat on her back is already thin, worn and torn by the insatiable greed of man.
According to the Indochina Forest Protection Bureau, in 1930, Vietnam had 14.2 million hectares of forest. Thirteen years later, the figure was 13.5 million hectares, which means that every year, 50,000 hectares of forest were lost. In 1980, statistics of the forestry sector showed that there were only 9.9 million hectares of forest in the country. So, in 37 years, we lost 3.6 million hectares. On average, 10,000 hectares of forest were destroyed each year.
How can we be assured of the forest coverage rate?
Flash floods from the upstream caused serious landslides on Highway 49 connecting Dong Ha City with the mountainous district of Huong Hoa in Quang Tri. Photo: Dinh Thanh
After the end of the program to plant 5 million hectares of forest, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development assessed that the program had completed many set objectives. The 12th National Assembly also issued a resolution assigning the Government to continue implementing the forest development plan for the 2011-2020 period in order to increase forest coverage to 42-43% by 2015 and 44% by 2020.
However, in April this year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced that Vietnam had nearly 14.6 million hectares by the end of 2019. Of which, the natural forest was nearly 10.3 million hectares; planted forests of over 4.3 million hectares; and the area of forested land eligible to calculate the national coverage rate was 13.86 million hectares with a coverage rate of 41.89%, which failed to meet the 44% target assigned by the National Assembly.
How can we be assured of the forest coverage rate of nearly 42%, one third of which is paper materials forests with an extraction cycle of only 5-7 years? After this kind of forest is exploited, the mountains and hills will become barren. 5-10 hectares of such forest cannot compare to 1 hectare of natural forest. When the vegetation cover of the planted forest is almost empty, 95% of the rainfall will flow over the surface, which is the cause of terrible flash floods.
In 2016, the Prime Minister issued an order to "close the forest", restricting the conversion of natural forests to other purposes (except for projects related to defense - security). After 4 years, who has counted how much area of natural forest has been lost?
On the path of development, almost every country has gone through this "path of suffering". But why do we have to follow this road?
Could we get back the things that have been lost? The answer is yes, when each of us today becomes "startled". Startled to stop and start over. Please strictly keep the remaining forest areas. Do not use the sacred wood of the forest. Do not destroy the forest for the purpose of economic development. Do not destroy natural forests and replace them with short-term industrial crops, regardless of the long-term environmental consequences.
The watershed cannot be destroyed innocently, the riverbed cannot be dug mercilessly, and every year, the state has to grant relief for the people. Money can be made, but it is not for human lives!
Prof. Nguyen Ngoc Lung, Director of the Institute of Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification, has been working in the forestry industry for nearly 60 years. He is called "the man of the forest".