Two sua trees poached from Hanoi streets

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Two sua trees, an endangered plant species, have been chopped down in Hanoi in two consecutive nights the past week.

One tree around seven to ten years old was found stolen  Saturday morning, leaving a stump around 23 centimeters in diameter in front of Thu Le Park, Ba Dinh District.

A bigger stump of 40 centimeters, of a 20-year-old tree, was found Friday morning on Doi Can Street of the same district.

It had rained during the nights as an impact of the Haima typhoon and residents suspect that the loggers took advantage of the vacant streets.

The poachers left behind smaller branches and the tree tops.

Police are investigating the thefts.

The government has banned the use of sua (Dalbergia tonkinensis prain) timber for commercial purposes.

In 2007, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also issued a ban on personal collection of parts of sua trees, either wild or planted.

But the high demand for sua wood for decoration and medical purposes in China was driving illegal felling and trade in the tree, experts have said.

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In April, 35 people in Hanoi received jail sentences of 18 months to nine years for stealing sua trees, but another tree was felled in the city just several days later.

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.

Prices offered for Vietnamese sua have increased constantly. From 2.5 million yuan ($366,000) a cubic meter in November 2007, it had surged to more than $578,000 a cubic meter early this year and supply was dwindling further.

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

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