HANOI - A recent survey revealed that the total forest area of five provinces in the Central Highland region, has dropped by nearly 360,000 hectares (ha), compared with a previous survey in 2008.
The five provinces that have been surveyed are: including Lam Dong, Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kon Tum.
The survey cited illegal exploitation, deforestation for agriculture production by local residents and shifting forest use purpose for economic targets as the reasons for the forest cover shrinkage, the Forest Management Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Deputy Head Nguyen Ba Ngai said.
Ngai added that the backward policies and mechanisms for forestry management and use were also reasons that had led to instability in the lives of forest protectors and people living near the forest. So much so, maintaining forest area had become a top priority for the country and the Central Highlands provinces.
A report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the Central Highlands region has around 2.8 million ha of forest, of which nearly 2.6 million ha was made up of natural forests at the end of 2012.
The Dak Lak People's Committee's Deputy Chairman, Y Dham Enuoi, said the province's forest area had been reduced by more than 86,000 ha over the past decade. Forest coverage rate had reduced to 38 per cent, compared with 51 per cent during the past decade.
Nearly 30,000 ha of the province's forests were destroyed by the local people for production purposes, he said.
During the period between 2006 and 2013, 700 projects were licensed for investment over a total area of 215,000 ha. Ineffective implementation of many projects had led to a situation of land conflict or illegal forest exploitation of the local people.
At a recent meeting of the Forest Protection and Development Steering Committee last week, Deputy Minister Hoang Trung Hai had asked the region and localities to adopt measures for forest protection and development.
Hai suggested that the region should focus financial resources on comprehensively implementing new policies and mechanisms, improving the ability of forest owners, and strictly handle violations.
The deputy PM also asked for further dissemination of legal laws and regulations and improving the lives of people living in difficult areas of the region.