Forests better managed thanks to protection policy hinh anh 1Forest Protection Fund officers and local forest rangers talking with residents in Ta Leng commune about forest fire prevention (Photo: VNA)

Lai Chau (VNS/VNA) - Thousands of hectares of forests in northern mountainous regions are being better managed and protected thanks to a new environmental services policy.

Pham Danh Tuyen, deputy head of Tam Duong district's Forest Protection Management Board in Lai Chau province, said payments for forest environment services had made positive impacts on people's lives, both economically and environmentally.

It had helped improve people's lives and raise awareness about protecting the forests, he said.

Lai Chau province has more than 470,000ha of forests that were allocated to State agencies, local individuals and households to look after in 2012.

From 2012 to the end of 2019, the provincial forest protection and development fund has paid 2.19 trillion VND (94.7 million USD) to subsidise efforts to protect the forests.

In 2019 alone, 542 billion VND was paid to 78,754 households assigned to take care of the forests.

The average income of households that took part in the project increased from 2 million VND in 2012 to 6.5 million VND in 2019.

Tam Duong district has more than 68,400ha of forest.

Last year, households and individuals earned 52.5 billion VND from the Protection Forest Management Board for protecting nearly 40,000ha of forest.

The forest environmental services policy had attracted a large number of workers to protect the forest, said Sung A Cua, a forest ranger from the Mong ethnic minority group.

Working as an administrator in Ta Leng commune, Cua often visits local residents to raise awareness about forest prevention and the need to cut vegetation to avoid forest fires.

He also shows people how to register to plant trees in order to improve their incomes.

In the past, forest protection and fire prevention faced many difficulties due to limited public awareness.

Deforestation for cultivation and illegal logging were still a problem, Cua said.

People in Ta Leng commune are observing regulations on forest protection now thanks to the forest protection fund, he said.

"This could be the driving force for locals to protect the forests and prevent forest fires," said Cua.

Over the past three years, Ta Leng commune has not recorded any forest fires or illegal deforestation, increasing the coverage ratio by more than 66 percent.

In addition to helping people change their habits, the policy has also contributed to improving the lives of ethnic minority groups, creating jobs and higher incomes.

Afforestation also helps people earn more money and raises a sense of responsibility about forest protection.

Giàng A Tung from the Mong ethnic minority group is from one of the families in Phin Ngan Xin Chai village that have been planting trees to cover bare land and hills.

In 2015, he was offered 1,600 tao meo seedlings (also known as son tra (Docynia indica), a kind of apple).

After five years of cultivating 1,4ha, he is hoping to harvest 300kg of tao meo this season, which he will be able to sell for 6,000-10,000 VND per kg.

“In the past I mainly planted maize but was economically efficient. Now táo mèo provides an income for my family. It's not a lot but it helps to reduce the economic burden,” said Tung.

Deforestation, forest fires and violations of the forest protection law had decreased since the forest environmental services policy was implemented in Lai Chau province in 2012, according to a provincial report.

In 2011, the number of violations hit 257 cases. In 2019, 172 cases were detected.

This had contributed to increasing the forest coverage ratio in the province from 41.6 percent in 2011 to 50.16 percent in 2019, improving the ecological environment, the report said.

According to Nguyen Ba Viet, deputy director of Lai Chau province's Forest Protection and Development Fund, the policy had helped local agencies at all levels and residents raise awareness about the significance and importance of forest protection and development.

Villages that were assigned to protect the forests had set up teams to regularly inspect them and issue protection regulations.

The management of fund for forest environmental services was being strictly implemented and transparent, Viet said./.