Rampant logging of precious timber confirmed in northern Vietnam

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Vietnam forestation authorities have admitted that so far this year loggers have illegally cut down many precious nghien trees in northern Vietnam's Ba Be National Park.

The Forest Management Department of Vietnam Administration of Forestry said on July 2 that the illegal logging has taken place at night within the national park located in Bac Kan Province, more than 160 kilometers from Hanoi.

The trees belong to a rare and endangered species (Burretiodendron hsienm) of flowering plant found only in Vietnam and China.

Figures from the department's investigation showed that 114 trees, or nearly 660 cubic meters of the timber, has been stolen from the park in recent months, news website Dan Tri reported Wednesday.

Large pieces of timber were cut down and moved out of the park via motorbikes to another location, where larger vans awaited to carry the lumber away to be sold. The entire operation went unnoticed by park managers, the provincial Forest Management Department and many forest ranger stations in the area.

Bac Kan Province authorities have ordered the police to help protect the trees, after local residents complained about the problem.

An anonymous source from the provincial forest management board said, "There might be officials who had turned their eyes away, avoided confronting the loggers, or even assisted them."

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The department said the timber would bring back a big profit while most locals living around the park are poor and do not have much arable land, asserting that they would be willing to join in the illegal logging.

It admitted that the neglect of forestation officials in the area is partly to blame.

Enhanced patrols have been ordered and the department also asked Bac Kan forestry authorities to look into the situation to determine the persons responsible.

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