Despite many efforts in restructuring the forestry sector, management, efficiency and quality control have still been poor, requiring more drastic measures to generate practical progress.

In 2013, Vietnam earned an estimated 5.4 billion USD from exporting wood and wooden products, up 15.24 percent over the previous year and exceeding the sector’s set target by 25.1 percent.

The surge was seen in major markets including the Republic of Korea (with 45.4 percent), China (30.7 percent), Japan (16.1 percent), and the US (8.6 percent).

However, except for wood, export of other forestry products reduced sharply to 227 million USD, equivalent to only 75.7 percent of the target.

Meanwhile, the total wood imports were 1.567 billion USD, a 14.6 percent rise year on year.

By the end of 2013, Vietnam had only 144,000 hectares of forest, including 50,800 hectares of natural areas, with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) management certificates.

During the whole year, 9,528 hectares of forest in 37 provinces was used for other purposes such as mining, hydropower, irrigation, road construction, tourism, industrial parks, agriculture and national security and defence.

According to Nguyen Ba Ngai, Deputy Head of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, there is a long way for the sector to go to fulfil all of its targets.

He said that currently the country has fulfilled only 88 percent of its forestation goals and the results of some key areas such as the Central Highlands and Northwestern regions have been particularly low at 56 percent and 24 percent of the set targets.

Meanwhile, forest quality has been poor with low economic efficiency and there has been an increase in the deforestation of some preservation areas, he added.

He said practical progress has not been seen in forestry restructuring and proposed that it is crucial to enhance forest’ quality and productivity by cultivating high-quality plant varieties in at least 60 percent of total areas.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan said many drastic measures will be applied this year to take forwards reform of the sector.

The ministry will continue reviewing 16.245 million hectares of forest and forestry areas to apply stricter management and make timely adjustments in planning, he said.

At the same time, more forests will be assigned to organisations, communities, families and individuals to encourage them engage in the forestry management and investment and receive more benefits from local forest.

The ministry will also implement better policies for forest environmental service payment, he added.

The Prime Minister has instructed that the exploitation of wood in natural forests will be ceased in 2014, while reforms will be stepped up in the management of forestry products to ensure their origins are legal. Meanwhile, comprehensive measures will be deployed to boost wood processing, generating high-value products.-VNA