Many forest rangers in the central province of Quang Binh Province have left the job due to low salaries and stressful work.
Forest rangers quit because of stressful work and low salary
With more than 450,000 hectares of forest, Quang Binh has the second largest forest area in Vietnam. However, many rangers have left the job in recent years.
Nguyen Xuan Que, head of Le Thuy District Forest Ranger Unit, said, "The district has 105,000 hectares of forest land, of which 65,000 hectares are natural forests. We have a total of 32 employees but 14 of them are in administrative departments. We can't patrol all of the forests in a year."
Ngo Huu Thanh from Long Dai Industrial Forestry Company said Khe Giua afforestation area had 28,000 hectares of natural forest. They used to have 40 guards but only 24 people are left.
"Our personnel are spread too thin to patrol the forest. One person has to do the work of two or three people," he said.
Many guards at Truong Son afforestation area also left. Only 27 out of 40 guards are still working. Protection forest management boards in other areas also reported that rangers and guards are resigning en masse.
The authorities have pointed out that high-pressure work and low salary are the causes of the problem. The salary for the rangers and guards is only VND2.5m (USD107) to VND5m a month, which is not enough for single people, let alone those with families.
"Many people left jobs to become a guest worker. They said working in the forest is too hard," Thanh said.
According to a ranger at Khe Giua afforestation area, the salaries in 2018 have just been paid in full in March and they haven't been paid for five months this year.
Previously, part of the salaries came from forest exploitation activities. However, after the prime minister ordered to close the forests in the Central Highlands to promote sustainable forest recovery, the sources of incomes dropped.
Pham Hong Thai, head of Quang Binh Forest Ranger Unit said not only did they lack personnel, but they also lacked good equipment for forest protection and fire prevention and extinguishing. Aggressive illegal loggers are another reason for mass quitting.
According to Thai, the government must have special policies to keep the forest rangers such as forest resource tax.