The story about the afforestation in Bac Kan province (part 1)
Part 2: The forests still bleeding
The resolution of the Bac Kan Provincial Party Congress in 2010 says that in 2011-2015, the province would grow 12,000 hectares of forests a year. As the project on growing 5 million hectares of forests has ended, the province would not receive the support of 40 billion dong a year from the government any more. However, the provincial authorities still decide that afforestation would still be the key economic activity in the province.
“If the state budget does not provide money to support the afforestation program, we will carry out the program with our money,” said Nong Van Chi, Deputy Chair of the Bac Kan provincial People’s Committee.
After a lot of great exertions, the local authorities have succeeded in persuading local residents to join the afforestation program. In 2011, Bac Kan was one of the localities which fulfilled 121 percent of the yearly plan. The forest coverage in Bac Kan has reached 57.5 percent, an encouraging result.
The success of the households, which pioneered in the afforestation program with 59,000 hectares of planted forests, has prompted other households to devote themselves to the afforestation.
In the years 2010 and earlier, local residents grew forests on the area of 700-800 hectares a year. Meanwhile, in 2011 alone, 2000 hectares of forests were planted. This did not include the 11,000 hectares of forests developed under the Project NO. 147.
To date, the local authorities have allowed 13 enterprises to join the program, while five have begun their works. However, the biggest problem for the enterprises is the site clearance, because it is not easy to compensate local residents for the land area taken by enterprises for afforestation.
In order to facilitate the afforestation program, the provincial authorities have prioritized to license wood processing factories which will use the locally made timber. SAHABAK, a timber processing factory in Cho Moi district, has been set up. In late 2011, the construction of the MDF (medium density fibreboard) panel factory was kicked off, which is believed to finish in 2013. Once becoming operational, the factory would consume 108,000 cubic meters of round wood a year, or 30,000 hectares of planted forests.
Chi has admitted a paradox that while acacia is considered the main material for the wood processing industry, local residents still rush to grow manglietia conifera. In the immediate time, it is more easily to sell Manglietia conifera than acacia trees. Farmers can sell just several Manglietia conifera trees for money, while they need to sell the whole large area of acacia to factories.
However, Chi has affirmed that the farmers, who grow acacia, would see their products salable well once the wood processing factories become operational. The local authorities also encourage people to grow acacia by offering preferences and supports.
When asked about the plan for the future, Chi said that if local residents can live on the forest plantation, they would not lend a hand to illegal lumberjacks any more. This proves to be the best solution to protect the forests.
“The biggest question for now is how to create means of subsistence for local people, so that they can fee secure with the job of planting forests and devote themselves to the afforestation,” Chi said.
At present, many farmers still grow rice to earn their living, while they cannot rely on the forest plantation. Therefore, the local authorities are thinking about how to create large land plots so as to obtain large areas for afforestation. Thien Nhien