Forest rangers in the northern province of Quang Binh have found 366 kilograms of timbers allegedly involved in the illegal logging precious trees in a national park, Vietnam News Agency reported Wednesday.
According to the report, the timbers found at Phuc Trach Commune Bo Trach District, on Monday was suspected of coming from the three sua (Dalbergia tonkinensis prain) trees which were felled in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park earlier.
In the meantime hundreds of people from communes around the park who have rushed there since last month end following a rumor that some had found precious timber worth billions of dong have mostly left the site, the news agency reported.
Earlier a report Vietnam Cable Television news website said forest ranger found more than 300 pieces from the three felled sua trees, which had been 0.8-1,2 meters wide in diameter and estimated to be worth more than VND300 billion (US$14.4 million).
But, locals, together with the loggers, had managed to move parts of the wood out of the park and the loggers had received VND28 billion from some customers as the first installment, the report said.
It quoted the rangers as saying that they were insufficiently staffed and armed to deal at the same time with the loggers and locals, who also benefited from picking up small pieces of the timber.
Nguyen Van Huyen, deputy director of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, told Thanh Nien that they could not estimate how much the loss was, because when they checked the site all the timber had already been taken away.
The Vietnamese government banned the use of sua wood for commercial purposes in 2007.
But high demand for the precious wood for decoration and medicinal purposes in China was driving illegal felling and trade in the tree, despite jail terms handed to 35 people in Hanoi last April.
Sua furniture is highly favored in China, and demand has increased in recent years among the nouveau riche.
The timber is found mostly in Vietnam and China, with a few trees found in India and Africa.
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