VietNamNet Bridge – Local residents in the central region take pride of the vast forests, covering an area of 13 million hectares, where there are a lot of precious kinds of timber. However, the forests there have been devastated every day, despite the existence of forest rangers.
Here at the forests in the west of the Nghe An and Quang Nam provinces, one can regularly hear the sounds generated from the chainsaws which chop down big trees. Timber has been carried by illegal lumberjacks in the open air by the waterways, as if the forest rangers never exist.
Illegally chopping down big trees is a… job
The Highway No 46 which links the Ho Chi Minh track to the Thanh Thuy border gate of Thanh Chuong district of Nghe An province, lasts 21 kilometers. The border gate here is not open for trade exchange. Therefore, the people seen on the track are mostly illegal lumberjacks.
It was 9 am. Several groups of people were seen speeding motorbikes along to the forests. Each of the group consisted of 2-3 motorbikes with people on them and saws and backpacks. Illegal lumberjacks were heading for the forests. Dan Viet’s reporters tried to stick to the lumberjacks to find out what they were going to do.
This was the road which the favorable conditions for illegal lumberjacks to chop down trees to get precious timber. On the two sides of the road, a lot of hollow trees were seen lying in abundance. Especially, the signs on the trees showed that the chopping was just carried out recently.
Following a track, one could see a lot of big teak trees were chopped down, and only the roots were left. A reporter heard the sound generating by a chainsaw from the east of the road. It seemed that two or three saws were working at the same time, because the sound was very noisy like in a carpenter workshop. A lot of trees collapsed at the same time.
The evidences of the deforestation could be seen on the road near the crossroads of the Highway No 46. A big shop with the plate “chainsaw repair service” was located nearby. Just some meters away, there was a shop specializing in upgrading motorbikes which allows to more easily carry timber.
Nguyen Van Son, a lumberjack in Tuong Duong district, said that timber has been floated every day on Nam Non Nam Mo and Ca rivers, drifting downstream. A lot of boats were thought as carrying neohouzeaua (a kind of bamboo), but in fact, they carry precious timber.
If the boats of precious timber were discovered by forest rangers, the carriers would let the timber to sink into the water to destroy the evidence.
However, Son said that only small lumberjacks accept to lose precious timber, while those, who “do business in big scale” never lose timber, because they are backed by “high ranking officials.”
Le Dinh Thinh, a local resident of Tam Dai commune of Phu Ninh district, said that there are both forest ranger unit and police stations near, but people still can illegally carry timber out of the forests.
“We have lost our confidence on the forest rangers,” he said.
Forest rangers join hands with illegal lumberjacks?
In late August 2011, two reporters of the Thanh Chuong district’s television recorded the image of a truck carrying timber heading for the Thanh Thuy border gate. When the truck went to the forest ranger’s station, an official intended to examine the truck. However, after making a call to someone, the officer let the truck through.
This could be understood that the officer received a command from a higher level that he needed to let the truck go through, because the owner of the truck paid the “protection money” already.
Here, in Nghe An, there is a popular saying “where are the forests, there are the forest destroyers”