Illegal logging on the rise

 Illegal logging on the rise

22 January 2008

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Viet Nam — National forest rangers discovered more than 39,000 forest violations last year, most of which involved illegal logging, an increase of more than 3,300 from 2006, according to the Forest Protection Department.

Ha Cong Tuan, director of Forest Protection Department, said of the number, there were 3,500 incidents of illegal logging, 1,230 forest fire and wild animal violations, 20,270 cases of smuggling timber and forestry products and 2,357 incidents of slash-and-burn farming.

The ranger force dealt with a total of 32,785 incidents in 2007. Of those, nearly 4,000 were handled in court. The force also confiscated trucks, motorbikes, ships, timber and wildlife.

Total fines reached VND234bil (US$14.6mil), of which VND193bil went to the State budget.

Last year rangers busted several companies for illegally trafficking timber and seizing hundreds of cubic metres of precious timber, and several hundred kilos of tiger meat and skin, elephant ivory and bear gall.

Tuan said Vietnam currently has 12.87mil ha of forest, covering 38% of the total natural land.

In 2007, a total of 956 forest fires occurred in the country, damaging more than 4,000 ha.

Last year, the Forest Protection Department organised 458 training courses on firefighting and prevention for more than 30,000 people.

The department also employed 4,000 technicians to help grassroots authorities in 5,266 communes protect their local forests.

To raise the capacity for forest fire prevention, the central Government has approved a project to train rangers until 2010, with an investment capital of VND502bil ($31.3mil) going to local provinces.

The department is also using more advanced technology to monitor and detect forest fires throughout the country, including satellite image that have helped transmit updated information about forest fires in remote areas.

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