Vietnam province probes 'serious' illegal logging cases concealed by officials

By Hua Xuyen Huynh, Thanh Nien News

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Forest rangers check illegal wood seized in central Vietnam. Photo: Tran Hieu/Thanh Nien Forest rangers check illegal wood seized in central Vietnam. Photo: Tran Hieu/Thanh Nien

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Forest management officials in Quang Binh Province said they are looking into three logging cases in which more than 150 cubic meters of wood were felled illegally, allegedly with the help of officials.
Phan Tuan, head of the forest management department of the central province, said Friday that the cases were busted in late September at a protective area in the province.
Tuan said the cases are of large scale in terms of the number of timber and there are signs indicating that some forest rangers had been protecting the loggers.
He said the illegal wood was found at sites very near the forest rangers’ stations, some within two kilometers.
The province busted 21 illegal logging cases this year and has imposed cash fines on many loggers, he said.
Central Vietnam has reported the most cases of deforestation in the country. The Central Highlands in the region lost more than 358,700 hectares or 14 percent of its forest area to illegal logging between 2008 and 2014, according to figures released earlier this month.
Nguyen Duc Luyen, vice chairman of Dak Nong Province in the highlands, said at a conference in April that Vietnam has not been able to stop deforestation as it is either condoned or overlooked by the authorities.
A number of cases busted this year supported his statement as investigation traced the wood back to officials.

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