Vietnam has not been able to stop deforestation as it is either condoned or overlooked by the authorities, a province-level official said at a meeting Thursday.
Nguyen Duc Luyen, vice chairman of Dak Nong Province, said at a meeting with the agriculture ministry that it’s difficult to deal with some deforestation cases because “government officials are involved.”
“Officials do give the green light to destroying forests,” he said, cited by local media, without naming anyone.
That’s one of the root causes of the problem, he said.
He said that when officials are involved, investigation usually hits a dead end.
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai also said at the meeting he’s aware that some "forces" were standing behind deforestation.
Hai said usually only the transporters of illegal timber are arrested because there has been no effective coordination between investigators, forest rangers and local authorities.
But he was only referring to illegal logging, which is responsible for a six percent loss of Vietnam's total forest area.
A report from Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development released in December 2011 showed that 60 percent of forest area was destroyed to give way for developments of industrial zones, hydropower and irrigation projects, all of which have to be approved by officials.
Luyen said forest resources in Dak Nong are “seriously declining.”
“I’ve personally seen worse than what official reports have suggested,” he said.
He said his province only has 334,000 hectares of forest left, around 29,500 hectares smaller than showed by official statistics.
“There’s a very big risk of desertification.”