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Nearly 1,000 Hectares of Vietnamese Forest Lost in 2018: Official

The equivalent of 1,000 football fields, the lost wilderness in Vietnam represents an improvement over recent years.

About 1,700 separate cases resulted in 936 hectares of destroyed forest in 2018, according to the acting head of the Forest Protection and Development Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The total number of forest violations declined, including a 35% drop in deforestation cases to 1,727. Conversely, prosecution of offenders tallied 363, up 16% from last year.

The government confiscated approximately 16,027 cubic meters of illegal timber, adding VND143 billion (US$62.17 million) to state coffers. Illegal timber transportation cases fell to 4,967, a 25% decrease compared to last year.

While the year's numbers suggest positive changes, the situation remains dire. Between 2010 and 2015, officials reported 300,000 hectares were lost. Moreover, the recovering land is not as healthy or diverse as what was destroyed. 

Numerous causes contribute to tree loss including illegal logging, slash burning for agriculture use, forest fires and urbanization. The effects of the American War still resonate as well. Chemical defoliants, intense fighting and landmines resulted in an estimated 60% loss of tree coverage. Currently, deforestation occurs all across the country including forests in the north, highlands and the Mekong Delta. Lack of public awareness, ineffective patrolling and prosecution are exacerbating the situation

There remains some cause for optimism, however. Between 1990 and 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN has consistently listed Vietnam’s forests as moderately expanding, in large part thanks to smallholder plantations, international initiatives and moves towards more sustainable logging practices. A 2017 nation plan called REDD+ aims to have 42% of the nation covered by forest by 2020.

[Photo via Vietnam News]

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