Illustrative photo (Source: tinmoitruong.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) – Although the forest coverage has increased, the quality of Vietnam’s forests have been declining, Director of the Silviculture Research Institute Tran Lam Dong said at a discussion in Hanoi on July 24.

At the event, held by the People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), Director of the Research Institute for Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification Nguyen Ngoc Lung said the contribution from forests to economic development is being hampered as many forest areas are facing degradation due to the expansion of agricultural activities. 

To recover natural forests, it is necessary to make more concentrated efforts and have intensive preparatory measures in the face of climate change to create an environment for the country to develop sustainably, he noted.

A report on Vietnam’s forest situation in 2017 showed that forests covered 14.4 million ha of land, including over 10 million ha of natural forestry and 4 million ha of planted forests, accounting for 41.45 percent of the country’s surface area. Those figures had slightly increased from the respective 14.3 million ha and 41.19 percent in 2016. 

However, the area of natural forests last year shrank from that in 2016. Protection forests have suffered from the biggest area change, dropping by 2 percent each year on average.

Dong said the area of exhausted forests has been on the rise. Even when new forests are planted, the density of forest trees is still declining. 

Therefore, it is a must to accelerate forest recovery programmes, he noted, highlighting one to plant 5 million ha of forests between 1998 and 2010. This drive has recovered more than 2 million ha of protection and special-use forests, and supported the afforestation of nearly 3 million ha of production forests.

Dong pointed out many challenges facing the recovery of natural forest ecosystems, including limited forest management capacity, obstacles to accessing capital, seedling sources and afforestation techniques, and forest owners’ modest capacity in acquiring new techniques. 

He called for more measures to support and encourage the protection and recovery of forests such as giving training and transferring techniques to relevant sides, stressing that afforestation efforts alone are not enough to recover the degrading ecosystem.-VNA