Rangers collude in destruction of Vietnam's protected wetland: official

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A 10-year-old mangrove tree illegally logged at the protected Ca Mau Cape National Park. Photo by Gia Bach

Police in the southernmost province of Ca Mau are investigating the loss of dozens of hectares of trees in a national park, and suspect that rangers colluded with the loggers.

Le Van Su, director of the province's agriculture department, said the logging has been going on since early this year at the Ca Mau Cape National Park, recognized by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve and which is in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

"There are signs that forest rangers colluded with the loggers," he said Saturday, without providing any more details.

"The police are investigating it."

The park administration had demoted the head and deputy head of a ranger station, and the police have recommended criminal charges against the head of another for irresponsibility.

Thanh Nien has discovered that the park had kept the deforestation a secret, and it took an investigation by the province's Forest Management in June following rumors to blow the lid off.

But with the park still failing to prevent the illegal logging even after that, the department reported to the province government which ordered it to investigate together with the police and military.

They discovered that 36.2 ha of forest were destroyed and an estimated 3,546 cubic meters of timber lost.

The 41,862-hectare national park is a highly protected area for its role in maintaining the ecological balance.

It is home to 22 species of flood plants, 13 animals, 74 birds, 17 reptiles, and 175 fishes, including endangered ones.

It is Vietnam's fifth and latest entry into the Ramsar list, which has more than 2,110 sites worldwide. It is based on the Ramsar Convention, an agreement between 165 governments on the sustainable use of wetlands.

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