The illegal use of forest land and deforestation still occur in many provinces despite many attempts in recent years.

Forest productivity was also low, experts told a conference on forestry production in northern Thai Nguyen province last week.

At the conference, organised by the National Assembly's Economic Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, they said forest resources played a crucial role in the country's sustainable development.

At present, Vietnam has 16 million hectares of forest.

The conference was told that deforestation was a complicated issue.

Although the rate of forest coverage has increased, the quality of the timber and the amount of biodiversity had declined.

Despite being a leading timber exporter, most of Vietnam's enterprises were small scale and used out-dated production technology.

Its productivity in timber processing was only half of that of the Philippines and 40 percent of that in China.

Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, said it was necessary to re-examine forestry development policies and promote effective production models.

She repeated the need to develop the processing of forestry products and to enhance forest protection and management.

"We need to re-organise forestry production from planting to harvesting and processing," she said. "It's also necessary to establish average to large-scale enterprises in certain economic zones."

Dang Viet Thuan, Vice Chairman of the Thai Nguyen provincial People's Committee called for the amendment of certain forestry policies.

"We need to have proper funding for producing plant varieties and new processing technology. If we don't have good varieties, we can't have sustainable forests," he said.

Participants suggested that solutions included proper management and planning of forestry land - and a re-examination of the country's forest planning at national and local levels. They also suggested allocating forestry land and forest to households and enterprises for better and more effective management.-VNA