Natural forests to close next year on conservation fears

The Government next year will close all natural forests to prevent them from being over-exploited and exhausted, said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at a recent government online meeting.

The country currently has 10.5 million hectares of natural forests, of which 4.5 million hectares are allowed to be exploited, according to Dung.

Therefore, he said, the ban on exploitation of this type of forest is supposed to cause the reduction of around VND200 billion (US$9.5 million) in State budget revenue.

Despite such fact, the PM stressed that all provinces should be determined in complying the ban, he required.

Dung also asked 65 enterprises operating in the fields of protection and exploitation of natural forests to convert into other types of business as well as create other jobs for their 3,000 workers.

Related ministries should co-operate together to support them in doing so, he required.

“In the past, we have successfully arranged jobs for an amount of over 10,000 redundant workers of the Viet Nam Shipbuilding Industry Group. So arrangement jobs for 3,000 workers is not a difficult task”, Dung said.

Nevertheless, director of the Con Cuong Forestry Co Ltd Nguyen Duc Son in central Nghe An Province, was quoted by Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) as saying that the PM’s decision would bring a deep sadness to the country’s forestry industry.

He reasoned that if the ban was put into force next year, forestry companies would not be able to pay for workers’ salary since their annual income came from measured exploitation of wood in natural forests.

In the case, the forests would surely be destroyed, Son stressed.

“The closure of natural forests should start after several years but not right now,” he said, adding that those who are effectively exploiting these forests should be allowed to keep on the exploitation under the management of competent authorities.

Cao Chi Cong, general director of the Forest Use Department under the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry, said that the ban on natural forests exploitation would help protect them and prevent the illegal logging nationwide.

However, he also stressed that the closure needed another several years before being put into force.

Being banned from natural forests exploitation, the 65 forestry companies mentioned above would face the risk of shut down, Son said, stressing that many workers and enterprises would no longer want to protect the forests because they benefited nothing from them.