Vietnam loses 2,689 hectares of forest in Jan-July: ministry

By Chi Nhan, Thanh Nien News

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A pine forest has been cleared illegally in Lam Dong Province. Photo: Lam Vien A pine forest has been cleared illegally in Lam Dong Province. Photo: Lam Vien

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Vietnam has lost a total of 2,689 hectares (6,644 acres) of forest so far this year, including 694 hectares cut down illegally, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The illegally cleared area during the first seven months was 60 percent larger than what was lost to deforestation in the same period last year. 
The rest, totaling 1,995 hectares, was destroyed by fires, nearly three times higher than the damage a year ago. The ministry did not provide a breakdown on wildfires and deliberate burning.
Meanwhile, replanting has slowed down, allegedly due to serious drought in the early months this year. 
Nationwide, trees have been replanted on an area of 104,000 hectares so far this year, nearly 8 percent less than last year.
In June, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered a ban on clearing natural forests to protect the remaining 2.25 million hectares. The government was trying to prevent abuse of a policy that allows companies to clear degraded forest areas to plant commercial trees.
According to a report released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, between 2010 and 2014, 110,000 hectares were cleared for commercial crops, 37,000 hectares for hydropower plants and roads, and 123,000 illegally.

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