Central Highlands forest area shrinks fast amid rampant illegal logging: report

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Forest rangers check illegally logged timber in Nam Sa Thay Forest in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum. Photo: Thai Ba Dung/Tuoi Tre Forest rangers check illegally logged timber in Nam Sa Thay Forest in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum. Photo: Thai Ba Dung/Tuoi Tre

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The Central Highlands lost more than 358,700 hectares of forest to illegal logging between 2008 and 2014, local media reported, citing official figures. 
According to a Tuoi Tre report, the forests in the region have been destroyed at an alarmingly high rate while replanting efforts remain sluggish. 
The General Department of Forestry reported that the forest coverage in the Central Highlands has shrunk to 45.8 percent of land area from 55 percent over the last 10 years.
Meanwhile the region has managed to plant only 1,007 hectares of around 16,000 hectares planned for 240 forest plantation projects.
Illegal logging at Yok Don National Park in Dak Lak Province in particular has been reported quite frequently since early this year.
Between January and September, around 600 trees, or around 300 cubic meters of timber, were cut down in the protected park, according to the General Department of Forestry.
Nguyen Huu Thien, former director of the Yok Don National Park, said rampant logging at the park party stems from a government policy that allows local residents to collect trees knocked down by winds or floods. 
Many illegal loggers took advantage of the policy to cut down trees and transport them out of the park, he said.
Dak Lak authorities said they confiscated more than 500 cubic meters of timber during 26 raids into “logging hotspots” between January and September.
Some companies involved in forest plantation projects in the Central Highlands also illegally planted industrial trees for commercial purposes on the area of land meant for forest plantations, authorities said.

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