The Central Highlands province of Dak Nong has lost 26,000 hectares of forest in the last five years due to a management breach by state forestry companies that had been assigned by the government to protect the area.
The shocking number was unveiled in a report by Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper yesterday. It also estimated that about 50,000ha of forest in the province had been illegally appropriated since 2010.
Illegal logging and land encroachment had forced several state forestry companies to dissolve, including the Gia Nghia Forestry Company.
The illegal actions appeared to have been abetted by forest rangers, according to Lao Dong.
In the past, the company owned dozens of thousands of hectares of forest after forest farms Quang Khe, Dak Na and Nghia Tin merged.
At present, the company owns less than 1,400 ha of forest. The company will be dissolved due to the modest area of forest.
Truong Xuan One Member Limited Company is facing a similar situation. The company was allocated nearly 7,000ha of forest in 2008, but the area has been reduced to 4,500ha.
The forest was illegally logged in order to plant rubber and coffee trees, as well as to make room for housing.
According to the provincial inspectors, the company did not take any actions to reclaim the land or re-plant trees.
Faced with a dwindling forest area, the Dak Nong Provincial People's Committee recently submitted a proposal to the Government to dissolve nine of the 14 forestry companies and establish forest management boards.
The province recently revoked 31,600ha of forest that had been allocated for State-owned forestry companies to hire private companies. However, of the 41 forestation projects carried out by private companies, only 10 projects were effective. The companies also allowed 5,000 ha of natural forest to be illegally logged.
According to the initial statistics released by Dak Nong's Agricultural and Rural Development Department, the loss of forest areas has caused a financial loss of VND272 billion (US$10.1 million).
Along with the deforestation, more than 8,000ha of forestation land allocated for companies was illegally appropriated.
The provincial Natural Resources and Environment Department told the newspaper that land disputes between local residents and forestry companies were complicated and difficult to resolve.
The Gia Nghia Forestry Company was investigated by provincial inspectors and police for deforestation, the results of which are pending.
The head of Truong Xuan Company, Tran Quyet Tam, was punished for the loss of 4,500ha of natural forest.
Do Ngoc Duyen, Director of the Agricultural and Rural Development Department, recently suggested that a multi-sector team be set up to investigate the cause of deforestation at the hands of private companies, which resulted in financial losses totaling hundreds of million of dong in the State Budget.
It is necessary to charge the involved parties with criminal acts for cases of irresponsibility and the deliberate destruction of forests, Duyen said.
He added that the companies that caused the deforestation