Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Dak Lak (VNA) – The Central Highlands provinces plan to plant 71,101 hectares of forests besides protecting over 2.25 million hectares of natural forests by 2020, according to the Standing Board of the Steering Committee for the Central Highlands Region.

The plantations include 5,500 hectares of special use forest, 7,350 hectares of protection forest and 47,500 hectares of production forest.

In addition to maintaining forest land without using it for other purposes, except projects related to national security and defence, the regional localities will revoke forest areas housing projects that break regulations on forest development and give strict punishments to any violations.

Regarding forest land swapped for other purposes, the provinces need to keep close watch on the reforesting progress.

Furthermore, afforestation has been made in over 73,000 hectares of land, increasing the forest coverage to 49.8 percent.

The Steering Committee noted the low progress of forest plantation in the localities, with 48,543 hectares of forest grown during 2011-2015, accounting for 4.4 percent of the nation’s forest areas.

Regional fertile soil is suitable for farmers to plant other high-value industrial trees, making forest plantation less competitive than other long-term trees like coffee and pepper. On the other hand, forest growing is also less attractive to farmers due to natural calamities, forest fires and pets and diseases.

The Central Highlands has a total land area of 54,261 square kilometres. The region holds a key strategic position in the national economy, politics, security and defence. Forest protection and development in the region is significant to water resources, ecological environment and socio-economic development of south central and southeastern coastal provinces.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported that the total area of forest and land zoned for forestry in the region stood at nearly 3.4 million hectares. The area of forest land decreased 180,000 hectares compared to 2010.

From 2010 and 2014, regional forest reserves dropped from 327.5 million cubic metres in 2010 to 270.5 million cubic metres in 2015.

In 2015, competent agencies uncovered 6,034 cases of violations of regulations on forest protection and development, up 463 cases against the figure recorded in 2014.-VNA