Vietnam — Drought comes, fire watches for the chance
The sun has been scorching in the southern province of Ca Mau these days, while the drought chaps the rice fields. Visitors can see the rice withering, while fishes and shrimp died because of the water exhaustion. The 8,500 hectares of the U Minh Ha forests have suffered from the heavy drought.
In the province, 41,000 hectares of the cajuput, mostly located in U Minh and Tran Van Thoi districts have been in the danger of getting fired. The fifth level alarm bell has been rung over the 5,000 hectares of forests in the U Minh Ha National Park.
Le Chi Thien, Deputy Director of the national park fears that local people may enter the forests these days to catch bees and chop down trees, which would cause fire.
Thien said that some 10 forest fire cases have occurred since March 2013, mostly because of the illegal poachers and lumberjacks.
A report by the Kien Giang provincial authorities showed that 1,500 hectares of forests on Phu Quoc Island, 8,000 hectares in Hon Dat district, 3,000 hectares of the preventive forests in An Bien district have been exhausted in water.
Getting ready to rescue the forests
Le Thanh Trieu, Chair of the U Minh district peoples committee, said the provincial authorities have approved the districts proposal to temporarily close the forests since March 12 until the rainy season. This means that the whole U Minh Ha cajuput forest has been put under the strict control in the dry season.
Ca Mau is the locality which has the largest area of cajuput forest, 36,500 hectares, including 8,000 hectares of the primitive forest put under the management of the U Minh Ha Vo Doi National Park.
With the decision, normal people cannot access the restricted forests, while the people responsible for the forest protection must not bring combustible materials. Other people can only enter the forests if they obtain the licenses from the local authorities.
About 1,000 people, including forest rangers, afforestation yard officers and local people have been on the 24/7 duty to protect the forest. All the firefighting equipment has been in the high readiness to work effectively to extinguish fire.
In Kien Giang province, the local authorities have requested competent agencies and local people to protect the U Minh Thuong forest and the 36,500 hectares of the forests on Phu Quoc Island, including 29,600 hectares of the special use forests. Huynh Long Hai, Head of the Phu Quoc island forest ranger unit, said the alarm bell level 5 (very dangerous) has been rung over all the forests on the island.
An Giang province has also decided to close the forests and stop all activities in there to strengthen the forest protection in the dry season.
Forest fires, together with the deforestation, are the biggest reasons behind the sharp fall of the forest area in Vietnam.
The central region of Vietnam is believed to be the locality where there is the large area of forests cut down by illegal lumberjacks. Most recently, local newspapers have reported that 50 hectares of the teak wood forests hundreds of years old in the Vu Quang National Park in Ha Tinh province have been found devastated.