VietNamNet Bridge –  Several hundred trees have been cut down by illegal loggers in a 10-hectare sua (Dalbergia tonkinensis Prain) forest in the suburbs of Thanh Hoa City in the central region.


A tree that was cut off last December.

Hung, a man who was born and grew up in Thanh Hoa City, and is known as a “timber magnate”, said there were once thousands of sua trees in the forest on Ham Rong Mountain side.

“The forest was a secret to Thanh Hoa dwellers, but was well known to all illegal loggers,” he said. “The sua trees could not live and grow because sua wood suddenly turned as expensive as gold and people wanted them.”

Mai Xuan Son, an officer of the Ham Rong Botanical Park, said he does not know how many trees existed in the past, but there are only about 500 trees now. Each of the tree is numbered and attached with a reflective-light board.

Forty years ago, households were allocated land on the Ham Rong mountain area. Every household took care of several hectares of land, where they planted sua trees.

Sua trees were the only plants that could live on the land, which had little water and few favorable natural conditions.

Sua trees were not valued in the past, because people could not use trees for any purpose. The tree trunks were twisted, so were not useful for furniture and the wood did not burn well and thus was not useful for cooking. People planted sua just to create greenery and maintain moisture in the land.

However, 10 years ago, sua trees suddenly became as expensive as gold, attracting illegal loggers. A 30-year-old sua tree can get enough money to “change someone’s life”, some people say.

City authorities decided to take back the land areas allocated to local people in the past and put the forest under strict control.

However, that was not enough to protect the sua trees. “Illegal loggers have been trying to fell the trees whenever they can,” Son said.

“There are 15 forest rangers in charge of protecting the sua forest. But this is still not enough. Sua trees are chopped down every day,” Son said.

“While the sua forest is not familiar with Thanh Hoa’s people, it is well known to every logger in the northern provinces,” he added.

In 2011-2012, when the demand for sua wood increased dramatically, illegal loggers from all over the country flocked to Thanh Hoa to try to chop down sua trees in the forest.

The loggers, encouraged by the expected high profits, tried every possible method to cut trees, despite the protection of forest rangers.

“In general, a group of loggers consists of four members. They use motor saws to fell trees. And they have guns and knives which they use to attack forest rangers in case of emergency,” Son said.

In 2011 alone, dozens of sua trees were chopped down. Meanwhile, about 200 trees were reportedly felled in 2011 and 2012.