The Ca Mau provincial People's Committee has approved a plan to lease out forests to develop eco-tourism and breed aquatic species.

Le Van Su, Director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the plan would be implemented in the second quarter of this year.

The southernmost province will lease 700ha of forests in the Ca Mau Cape National Park in Ngoc Hien district, mostly to people living in the park. They can practise aquaculture and offer eco-tourism services, and they will not be allowed to cut down trees or dig.

The lessees will be responsible for protecting the area of forest they rent.

The lease contracts will be for three years.

The programme will be overseen by Ngoc Hien district, the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the park.

Le Dung, Vice Chairman of the Ca Mau provincial People's Committee, said the lease period is short and the leased area limited since the plan is in the experimental phase.

During the pilot period, the province will weigh the plan's pros and cons, he said.

If its positives outnumber negatives, the plan will be expanded to manage the forest better and improve the lives of locals, he said.

In recent years the forest shrimp-farming model has helped many people in Ca Mau earn stable incomes while also protecting the province's submerged forests.

The province has more than 100,000ha of forests, including 72,880ha of mangrove forests.-VNA