Authorities in central Vietnam fined a man from Hanoi VND300 million (US$16,000) for buying more than 11 tons of protected wood illegally, news website VnExrpress reported Sunday.
Le Ba Vu was found to keep in his house more than 10 tons of trac (Dalbergia cochinchinensis), a hard fine wood listed as endangered worldwide, in April.
Vu's house search was warranted after forest rangers in Binh Dinh Province caught a truck carrying 1.2 tons of trac for him.
The driver, Nguyen Minh Hung, and Hoa Lam Transport Company, which Hung was employed, were also fined VND45 million in total for transporting the banned wood.
Commercial use of trac is strictly banned in Vietnam as it is facing high risk of extinction. Trac is categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List as endangered.
Yet the fragrant termite-resistant wood is still hunted to serve the rich’s demand for special home furniture.
Binh Dinh’s rangers in early May seized more than six tons of the wood from may trucks and drivers smuggling it to China.
Drivers said the wood can sell for VND11,000-12,000 (50 US cents) a kilogram outside the forest, and VND17,000 to wholesale buyers who would sell it to Chinese dealers.
Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development released in December 2011 showed Vietnam lost nearly 32,000 hectares of forests every year, including 60 percent to cultivation purpose, industrial zones, hydropower and irrigation projects, and 6 percent to illegal logging.