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Fokienia trees devastated by illegal logging

A tree that appeared at the same time as dinosaurs in Southeast Asia is dying under the hand of humans.

Fokienia is one of many plants of historical value. Illegal logging of ancient fokienia trees, especially in the Central Highlands, has occurred in recent years. 

 

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The 1,000 year-old fokienia tree in Thanh Hoa 

 

 


In Vietnam, fokienia was listed in Red Book in 1996, undet IIA, i.e. the category of precious wood subject with restricted exploitation and use for commercial purposes. However, with its outstanding features, fokienia wood has been favored and used in interior decoration or for export.

According to Krong Bong Forestry in Dak Lak province, five illegal logging cases were discovered in the last two years in Ward 1219 alone. Over 110 fokienia trees in the primitive forest were cut down.

As many as 48 fokienia trees were felled in October 2018, 24 trees in February 2019, 9 trees in December 2019, and 14 trees in February 2020. Most recently, 19 trees were chopped down in April.

The cases have been transferred to the provincial police for investigation. Under the current laws, illegal exploitation of timber belonging to IIA group in protective forests could be fined up to VND200 million.

If the illegal logging causes serious consequences, violators will be subject to criminal procedures and 10-year prison sentence.

In Vietnam, fokienia was listed in Red Book in 1996, undet IIA, i.e. the category of precious wood subject with restricted exploitation and use for commercial purposes. However, with its outstanding features, fokienia wood has been favored and used in interior decoration or for export.

However, despite heavy sanctions, more and more fokienia trees have been devastated. According to Bui Quoc Tuan, director of Krong Bong Forestry, the problem is that no culprit of the crimes has been discovered.


Fokienia wood is transported in different ways. In general, it is carried across border areas because this avoids examination by agencies and the police.

According to the Lam Dong provincial People’s Committee, large-scale deforestation cases have occurred recently in provinces bordering Lam Dong, such as Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Quang Nam and Khanh Hoa.

As many as 193 deforestation cases have been discovered in Kon Tum alone so far this year, causing damage to more than 20 hectares of forestland.

The area between Krong Pa district in Gia Lai province and the Ea So Natural Reserve in Dak Lak province is marked as a ‘hot spot’ in deforestation.

There, not only ancient fokienia trees, but other plants, such as bang lang (Lagerstroemia), Gao vang (Nauclea orientalis), Ke (urena) and Sao (Hopea), have also been exploited.

People have asked how such big volumes of precious wood can be smoothly transported. The fact that no crime has been discovered has also raised queestions about the capability and morality of appropriate agencies.

Thanh Lich 

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