Precious tree stolen from central Vietnam street, again

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Another tree from a precious timber species was stolen from a street in central Vietnam early Thursday.

The stump of the tree, more than 20 centimeters in diameter, was noticed on Nguyen Tat Thanh Street in Thua Thien-Hue Province, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Local authorities said a tree around three meters high had been taken.

Nguyen Thi Theo, a local woman living nearby, said the tree was more than ten years old.

Police are investigating the theft.

The tree belongs to the sua (Dalbergia tonkinensis prain) species. The Vietnamese government has banned use of the tree for commercial purposes since 2007.

In late 2011, two other sua trees were also stolen from Nguyen Tat Thanh Street and the culprits have not been found yet.

Last month, three sua trees 0.8-1.2 meters wide in diameter, estimated to value more than VND300 billion (US$14.4 million), were felled in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh Province. The logs were found before the poachers managed to take them.

The high demand for sua wood for decoration and medical purposes in China has been driving illegal felling and trade in the tree, despite 35 people jailed in Hanoi last April.

Sua furniture is highly favored in China, and demand has increased in recent years among the nouveau riche seeking the prestige of having furniture made of precious and rare wood.

The timber is found mostly in Vietnam and China and a few are found in India and Africa.

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