Deforestation in the Central Highlands. (Photo: VNA)

Dak Lak (VNA) – The Central Highlands provinces have halted licensing projects involving the use of natural forests for other land needs, particularly for industrial tree plantations, and those likely to overexploit forest products in converted forest areas.

The moves were part of efforts to abide by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s decision at a conference in 2016 to seek solutions to sustainable forest recovery in the region in response to climate change from 2016-2020.

According to the Central Highlands Steering Committee, Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Nong and Lam Dong provinces have reviewed 565 projects covering the total forest area of more than 214,000 hectares and assessed their results with the focus on those converting forest use into planting rubber and other industrial trees.

The provinces have revoked the entire or part of dozens of delayed projects and those enabling forest encroachments, as well as illegal logging and occupation of forest while individuals and organisations responsible for poor governance of forest and forestland have been strictly punished.

It was estimated that there were 220 projects involving conversion of forest into rubber plantations, spreading across an area of about 115,000 hectares, including over 93,500 hectares of poor natural forest. Of these areas, about 73,130 hectares of rubber have been planted; nearly 9,700 hectares, or 13.2 percent, of which have poorly developed or died.

The steering committee has pointed out many shortcomings in forest management of the Central Highlands provinces in the past that led to large forest loss or ineffective forest conversion projects.

The committee has asked the government and competent state bodies to study a plan to provide ethnic minority households who had been misusing forest and forestlands for years with new lands for farming, and to properly handle ineffective projects in a bid to avoid economic loss for both enterprises and the provinces.

It has also ordered the five provinces to replant forests in areas of poorly-developed rubber.-VNA