Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung has affirmed that raising people’s awareness of forest protection and development is an important task for national development.

At an online conference held in Hanoi on April 27 to review a project to plant 5 million ha of trees nationwide, Deputy PM Hung said that the project has helped increase forest coverage, improve the ecological environment, generate millions of jobs and improve local people’s living conditions.

However, he pointed out shortcomings in forest management work which resulted in low forest coverage rate and poor forest quality.

He asked ministries, sectors and localities to effectively manage and utilise the current forest acreage, cover denuded land and barren hills, and increase forest quality and value.

The implementation of the forest protection and development programme for the 2011-2020 period should be combined with programmes to cope with climate change and mitigate calamities, he said.

According to the State Steering Committee in charge of the project, more than 3.73 million ha of trees were planted during the 1998-2010 period. The figure included almost 900,000 ha of protected forests and forests for special use and more than 1.5 million ha of forests for production. The nation’s forest coverage rose from 32 percent in 1998 to 39.5 percent by the end of 2010. Under the project, almost 32 trillion VND was disbursed over 13 years of implementation.

The nation’s forests are now yielding more than 4.5 million cu.m of timber per year, while timber and furniture exports revenues rose from 236.1 million USD in 1998 to 3.55 billion USD in 2010./.