Uncontrolled sand exploitation carried out along Lang Co Bay in central Thua Thien – Hue Province has caused environmental degradation to the area and the bay, which was included in the World's Most Beautiful Bays Club in 2009.

Sand exploitation has increased dramatically along the coast from Loc Vinh Commune to Lang Co Town, where the bay is located.

Violators have cut down trees and created several paths to facilitate entry into a previously untouched chestnut forest in Phu Hai 1 Hamlet in Loc Vinh Commune.

Illegal sand exploitation has left large holes in another chestnut forest in Phu Hai 2 Hamlet.

In addition, in Lang Co Town, several construction companies have used excavators and bulldozers to exploit sand in areas along Lang Co Bay's beach, destroying certain parts of the forest.

Thousands of cubic metres of sand and soil have been dug out and taken for construction purposes, adding to the threat of salt encroachment.

The beaches at Mui Doi, Lap An Lagoon and the Tho Son area in Loc Tien Commune have also been damaged by the illegal activity.

Some high-end hotels and resorts investors along beachfront locations have added to the problem as they are levelling many sand dunes in the surrounding area for road construction.

Although the problem has occurred over the past several years, local authorities have yet to apply any strict penalties to resolve it.

Bui Ngoc Ga, chairman of Loc Vinh Commune's People's Committee, said the local authorities has assigned officials in Phu Hai 2 Hamlet to manage the local chestnut forest.

According to Ga, construction material companies are not allowed to exploit sand along the coastline.

The local government has set up several watchtowers to observe any illegal activity, but storms last year destroyed most of them, hindering the effectiveness of inspections.

TranVan Giang, chairman of Lang Co Town's People's Committee, said it is difficult to stop illegal sand exploitation as it often occurred at night or during weekends when local authorities are not working.-VNA