Vietnam national park losing trees as law not enforced: study

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A recent study by an international conservation group found that weak enforcement of the law at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam is threatening to push some invaluable tree species to the brink of extinction.

Illegal logging and transport of timber were observed almost all over the UNESCO-recognized park in Quang Binh Province, Nguyen Manh Ha and Do Tuoc, members of the UK-based Flora and Fauna International, said at a recent conference, Tien Phong newspaper reported Tuesday.

These operations were going on publicly, the study found.

Photos taken during the study showed that the loggers had openly put up tents in the park and were rarely accosted by forest rangers or other officials.

The most commonly targeted for logging were timber trees like sua (Dalbergia tonkinensis), according to the study.

Vietnam banned the commercial use of the timber in 2007 but high demand for it, especially from China, has kept the illegal trade going.

At least three sua trees were reported to be cut down in the park last month.

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Police have identified 11 people allegedly involved in the logging, all locals, but only five have been found yet and placed under house arrest, including Le Vu, a Party member.

The illegally logged timber was not taken away for safekeeping, allowing armed loggers and locals to flock to the park and carry away as much as they can.

Le Thanh Hai, deputy police chief of the local commune, also reportedly joined them. He managed to lug away 42 kilograms of timber, but in an ironic twist the wood was stolen from his home.

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