Forest coverage in Bac Lieu has increased to 5,572ha, twice the area in 1997 when the Mekong Delta province was re-established, local officials say.

According to the province's Forest Protection Division, of the total forest area, protected forests stand on 4,633ha, special-use forests comprise 254.7ha and plantations cultivated by households make up 684ha.

Most of the protected forest area is mangrove forests situated along a 56-km coastline in the eastern part of the province.

The province has disseminated information and awareness of forest protection regulations among thousands of local residents.

It has also provided information on ways to plant and protect forests to households and organisations participating in programmes to maintain and protect forest areas in the province.

It has allocated a total of 3,089ha of forest land to 392 households and four organisations for protection and maintenance.

Recently, the division has begun applying IT software to manage forestry projects and forest land.

Bac Lieu has also carried out research to select trees with high economic value for establishing plantations on unused land. So far it has planted duoc (Rhizophora apiculata), coc (Lumnitzera spp), da (Ceriops spp) and phi lao (Casuarina equisetifolia) trees on 828ha of previously unused land.

The province's protected forests have helped prevent land erosion along coastal areas, protect dykes as well as farms of thousand of residents, officials say.

The province's forest protection forces, residents and organisations planted 1,950ha of protected forests over the last 16 years (1997-2012), according to the province's Forest Protection Division.

In the first four months of this year, Bac Lieu has planted 350ha of new forests, division officials said.

The province has petitioned the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Forest Protection Department to allocate 8.4 billion VND (400,000 USD) for forest protection activities this year.

At the end of last year, Bac Lieu's forests accounted for eight percent of the province's total area.-VNA