Last update: 11:13 | 01/12/2017
Illegal logging is still rampant in the Central Highlands despite Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s order to close the forests in the Central Highlands more than a year ago.
Timber found at a forest managed by Chu Pha Forestry Company
According to the locals in Ea H'leo Commune in Dak Lak Province, the deforestation in the forest lands managed by Chu Pha Forestry Company is rampant and the loggers openly work during the day.
Reporters of the Labourer Newspapers disguised as orchid collectors and tried to go to destroyed forest area 5km away from a forest protection post. However, they were blocked by three men. Head of Ea H'leo Forest Ranger Unit Truong Van Hong refused to send out rangers to lead them to the scene.
They went around and saw a huge timber cutting site with various equipment. Ea H'leo forest rangers and the security guards of Chu Pha Company said they discovered the site last week but had been unable to clean up and transfer the timber out so they sent guards to protect the site.
Chu Pha Company director An Ngoc Tan said they were informed about the site on November 22 and inspected it immediately. "The deforestation occurred right after Storm Haikui. Due to heavy rains and slippery paths, we couldn't patrol and detect the site. There's no way the security guards ignored the deforestation," he said.
According to Ea H'leo Forest Ranger Unit, the site was discovered and reported to them on November 21. The rangers arrived at the scene and found various vehicles and equipment with newly cut-down trees and over 45 cubic metres of timber. On the next day, they asked the police, representatives of district people's procuracy, and Ea H'leo People's Committee to survey the scene and filed the report.
The site is difficult to access. The rangers only found three hired drivers who were bailed out by their families.
During a National Assembly meeting session, NA Deputy Nguyen Sy Cuong from Ninh Thuan Province said that despite the prime minister's order, the forest was not closed and local authorities even helped to destroy forests.
"Owner of a forestry company told me that illegal logging wouldn't be that bad if the loggers didn't get help from forest ranger units and local authorities," he said. "If the authorities only arrive at the scene and give opinions after the forest is destroyed, without suffering from any punishment, then when will the prime minister's order to close the forest will finally be realised?"