Vietnam has so far increased its nationwide forest coverage to 42%, equivalent to 14.6 million hectares, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong told the National Assembly on November 3.
Regarding forest protection, the minister said there were about 9 million hectares of forest in the whole country in 1990, and after 30 years, the area of natural forest has increased to 10.3 million hectares out of a total of 14.6 million hectares.
| Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Xuan Cuong speaks at a National Assembly sitting on November 3. Photo: Kinhtedothi.vn|
The 4.3 million hectares of planted forests has helped Vietnam produce 30 million cubic meters of wood to build a forestry industry involving 4,600 processing enterprises. In 2020, Vietnam can export up to US$13 billion worth of wood products.
According to the minister, previously, a ranger household only received VND50,000 (US$2.16) for every one hectare of forest guarded per year. The allowance has increased to VND250,000 (US$10.82) per ha. The National Assembly has proposed raising the amount to VND1 million (US$43.15) per ha to ensure the protection of 10.3 million hectares of natural forest.
Besides, revenue from forest protection fee (collected from enterprises earning profit from forest such as hydro power plants, wood processing businesses) has amounted to VND30 trillion (US$1.3 million) every year, Mr. Cuong said.
He added that on October 20, Vietnam officially signed a cooperation agreement on carbon credits. As a result, Vietnam can trade 10 million cubic meters of CO2, with US$5 for each cubic meter of CO2.
However, in 30 years the natural forest acreage cannot be recovered as it once was because natural forests need longer time to grow. During the Vietnam War, the US army sprayed 77 million liters of agent orange to destroy 2 million hectares of natural forest in central Vietnam.
Therefore, forest rehabilitation needs to be implemented step by step, Mr. Cuong noted.
Earlier, the Vietnamese government approved the target program on sustainable forest development during 2016-2020.
The country expects to achieve a yearly forestry production growth rate of 5.5-6% and produce 20 cubic meters per hectare annually from artificial forest.
The program sets out three main missions: protecting forests and preserving nature, improving forest quality and productivity, and increasing added value of forest products.
Under the program, 15% of degrading forests, especially protective forests, will be recovered and preserved by 2020. An additional 100,000 hectares of special-use forests will be planted, while a number of rare species, which are on the brink of extinction, will be preserved.
Law enforcement should be enhanced to deal with offenses on forest development and protection.