QUANG NAM In the last few days, thousands of cubic metres of illegally-cut logs have been found floating on Bung River in Dong Giang District in the north-west of the central Quang Nam Province.
The logs that were tied up into rafts had floated from Nam Giang and Phuoc Son rain-forests into Dai Loc District s Vu Gia River before being discovered.
On Wednesday, deputy chairman of the provincial People s Committee Nguyen Ngoc Quang organised an inter-departmental task force including forest rangers, police and agriculture officials to collect the logs and hunt down the illegal loggers.
The task force so far has only been able to retrieve 10cu.m of the logs despite the discovery of a masses of sunken logs at the source of Bung River in Dai Loc District s Dai Son Commune. They also searched the western districts of Dai Loc, Nam Giang and Hiep Duc.
Nguyen Thanh Quang, director of the province s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said there were not enough resources to retrieve the logs.
"The big logs have been illegally cut down from the rainforest and hidden there until loggers can transport them to illegal markets in Dai Loc," Quang said.
He said that illegal logging had increased in Dong Giang and Nam Giang districts in the run-up to Tet holiday.
Nguyen Nhung, Dai Loc District s chief forest ranger, said that the district collected around 600cu.m of illegal wood last year, all from the Bung River.
"But they are just the tip of the iceberg," he said, pointing to the huge amount of wood still unrecovered at the bottom of the river. "It s unthinkable that loggers have logged so much like that in such a short time," he said. "I believe it was cut recently, given that the massive flood last year has already swept away all the illegal wood downstream until it clogged a river section in Quang Hue."
The task force failed to arrest any illegal loggers, saying they had fled. "It s nothing strange," said Lt Col Nguyen The Ca, head of the district s economic police. "Loggers usually leave all the logs and equipment behind and run."
Deputy chairman Quang said that capturing loggers was not the point, another solution should be found.
"It s hard to identify illegal loggers. It is a chain involving many people, including honest locals who take small roles to earn a living," he said.
Loggers are becoming more aggressive and ready to attack rangers, according to Do Tuan, Nam Giang District s chief forest ranger.
They can mobilise lots of youngsters in nearby villages to stop rangers from confiscating their logs when they are found.
More rangers were attacked last month, said Tuan, adding that the loggers often blocked roads with motorbikes. VNS