A four-year-old forest of acacia trees of the Mong Thi Vuong family in Vo Diem Commune, Ha Giang province’s Bac Quang district (Photo: VNA)

Ha Giang (VNA) - Thousands of households in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang have committed to use and protect parcels of forest near their homes, receiving monthly environmental payments that help them to improve their livelihoods, the Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper reported.

Lu Xin Cai, a resident of Quang Tien Hamlet, Hoang Su Phi district, said that his household has been assigned over 2ha of forest and is allowed to go into the forest to exploit extra products in the forest.

Thanks to the payment for forest environmental services, his family could buy a TV, motorbike and animals to raise.

Lu Van Thanh, head of Ma Lu Sung hamlet of Ban Nhung commune, said that the hamlet has a common rule for forest protection banning locals from chopping down trees.

"Residents must ask for local authorities’ permission if they want to cut trees for woods to build houses. Otherwise, violators will be penalised or reported to authorities," Thanh said.

Organisations such as the elderly association, association of war veterans and youth unions also receive the payments and have established a fund giving loans at low interest rates or zero percent rate.

The fund set up by Ta Nhiu commune of Xin Man district is now worth dozens of billions of VND.

Lo Thi May, a villager of Ta Nhiu commune, said “In 2015, my family borrowed 10 million VND (440 USd) from the fund and bought black pigs. One year later, we had enough money to pay for the loans. Now I have 12 pigs worth dozens of millions of VND.”

Quite a few other locals who received loans are enjoying a better life along with increased awareness of environmental protection.

The fund has been used to improve local facilities and help move houses prone to landslides and floods out of risky areas.

In Na Quang hamlet, Quan Ba district, the locals collected 80 million VND (3,500 USD) of payment to make a new road.

Cao Dao Quang, director of management board of Tay Con Linh special purpose forest, said that the payments for forest environmental services have big impacts on local awareness. The residents no longer damage the forest in order to farm.-VNA