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Give land to farmers, and they will stop deforestation

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Local residents who have been living together with the forests, considering the forests as their homes, still devastate the forests. It’s because they need land for agricultural production.

In late October 2012, a meeting was held in Dong Giang district, in the central province of Quang Nam to discuss the wrongdoings of the people, who violated the laws by devastating the preventive forests of A Vuong hydropower plant.

The place for the meeting was crowded with the presence of more than 100 Co Tu ethnic minority people from two resettlement areas.

The meeting was held after the inspectors of Dong Giang district found out that 27 households in Ma Cooih commune destroyed the A Vuong hydropower plant forests, causing damage to 13.6 hectares of forests.

However, the local authorities decided not to take criminal proceedings against the farmers. Most of them are from poor families, have good records and they broke the laws just because of limited knowledge.

The farmers devastated the forests because they needed land to till rice fields. The aim of the deforestation was to get agriculture land to improve their living standards, while they did not try to get precious timber for sale.

Therefore, competent agencies in Quang Nam provinces agreed that the 27 households would not be sued before the court, but they needed to make commitments that they would not repeat the mistakes.

The farmers said they realized that deforestation is a big crime and that they felt lucky because they were not sentenced to jail.

However, analysts have commented that no one can be sure that they would not deforest again in the future.

A question has been raised that why the local residents, who have been living with the forests since the days they were born, who have been loving the forests, considering these as their homes, still chop down trees and damage their homes?

Give farmers land

In 2006, when the A Vuong hydropower plant project was implemented, hundreds of households in the locality were asked to relocate to other places. The local authorities decided that every household would receive one hectare of land for their agricultural production.

However, in fact, each of the households received 0.3-0.5 hectares only. Meanwhile, the land was poor which was not suitable for agriculture production. There was no irrigation system, while the soil was exhausted.

As a result, the people decided to find soil for rice fields themselves by devastating forests.

Hoih Bach, a local resident, complained that the officers of the A Vuong Preventive Forest Management Board, who are from the lowland, have been allocated land to grow cajuput trees which can bring them money. Meanwhile, local people, who have to leave their homes to give place for the hydropower plant, still don’t have land for production.

Aral Buoc, the village patriarch, has suggested that the state should allocate the forest land along the Ho Chi Minh City trail to local residents for management.

“Only when local farmers can benefit from the forests, will they try to protect the forests,” he said.

For the time being, in order to settle down in the new areas, Le Van Luyen, Deputy Chair of the Dong Giang district people’s committee, has suggested that farmers should breed fish in cages and grow the trees that fit the local soil conditions.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut