Gia Lai authorities have demoted the manager of a protected forest who has been accused of smuggling timber in the Central Highlands province last year.
Nguyen Dinh Son was demoted from his position as director of the Ia Rsai Protected Forest Management for “lax management that led to rampant deforestation,” the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a statement.
Son was involved in a timber smuggling case last year, it said after launching an inspection following media reports.
On November 26, 2015, park rangers pulled over a truck and found 159 logs measuring nearly 10 cubic meters.
According to the Krong Pa District Forest Management Agency, Son admitted he had been planning to use the logs to build a café, but only managed to produce papers for less than half the consignment.
It is not clear why criminal charges were not filed against Son.
Seven of his subordinates were also rebuked for indirect responsibility for other cases of illegal felling.
Late last year Gia Lai authorities transferred Bui Duc Viet, director of the Krong Pa District Forest Management Agency, and three rangers after 22 cases of illegal logging were detected. The loggers had cleared 18 hectares of forest.
According to the agriculture department, illegal logging was rife last year, with rangers being confronted by violent loggers in several instances.
Lax surveillance by rangers worsened the situation, the agency said.
Last week the Gia Lai police dropped a case of drug smuggling after failing to identify suspects involved in smuggling nearly 50 cubic meters of logs last year.
The crime was actually busted by ethnic Bahnar youths in Chu Pah District, hundreds of whom stopped two trucks carrying 10 cubic meters of timber. Frustrated by rampant timber smuggling in the vicinity of their village, they seized the logs and reported to park rangers.
Subsequent investigations found more trees had been felled in the area than seized from the truck.