The story related by Nguyen Thi Tuyet Thanh, a National Assembly’s Deputy from Quang Nam province, who is now in Hanoi to attend the ongoing National Assembly’s session, caught the special attention from the public.
When elected the National Assembly’s Deputy, Thanh was working at the Nam Tra My District’s Women’s Union in Quang Nam province, the locality that everyone think is very beautiful with vast forests.
“From a distance, one would see the green color ahead and he would conclude that the forest coverage level is high. Meanwhile, they do not know that the forests are hollow, since precious timber has been exploited already,” Thanh said.
It is true that local residents have chopped down the precious timber to sell for money. Why do they still try to destroy the forests, though they know that they must not do that? Why don’t the forest rangers stop them?
According to Thanh, the forest preservation has been assigned to forest rangers. There is one ranger in every hamlet, who is paid 120,000 dong a month and told to go inspecting the forests twice a month at least.
The forest rangers do not have to buy water, because they can bring green tea with themselves, but they have to spend money to buy instant noodles for the inspection tours. Instant noodle would be considered a normal product in urban areas, but it is very expensive there. In general, it is difficult to carry goods to remote areas due to the bad traffic conditions. Therefore, everything there is as twice as more expensive than in big cities.
So, a pack of instant noodle here is priced at 10,000 dong, and a young man needs two packs for a meal. “So, is 120,000 dong enough for people to live and work?” Thanh questioned.
In the past, households were assigned to protect the forests and got the pay of 50,000 dong per hectare per annum. The sum of money was big enough to buy 0.5 kilos of fish, and it is clear that people could not protect the forests with just 0.5 kilos of fish.
Thanh has pointed out that Vietnam still does not have a reasonable policy which makes people love the forests and devoted themselves to protect the forests.
In the mountainous district of Nam Tra My, a log of wood just can be sold at 5000 dong, while it can be valued at 50,000 dong in the lowland. The problem is that it is very difficult to reach there due to the bad traffic conditions. Therefore, there has existed a vicious circle: people try to grow acacia plants, and the plants grow, get old and die, then people continue growing acacia plants again, even they do not know why they should do that.
Meanwhile, the forest programming has made people puzzled. A forest could be shown on the map as the forest for special use, while in fact, it is a production forest. A lot of forests have been chopped down to give place to hydropower plants, or to the projects developed by a lot of investors.
In fact, the State gives financial support to local residents, so that they can grow some kinds of plants. However, in many cases, they would be able to get the timbers after 60 years, while they need money to buy food everyday. They cannot wait 60 years.
They have been told to grow areca, but areca cannot be sold or eaten. Unable to earn their living with the forests, local residents have to destroy forests to grow rice and other farm produce. But risks always exist: if the rice fields are attacked by the wild beast, the crops will fail. There are always fences around the fields, but these cannot prevent from wild boar.
That explains why 84 percent of total households in Nam Tra My are still poor households. A lot of people still have to live in hunger. Therefore, they have to destroy the forests to get land for farming. “We have been violently criticized them for destroying the forests, but we do not think about why they have to do that,” Thanh said.