Vietnam's forest lands leased cheap to foreign companies

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Vietnam's forests are being leased to foreign companies at excessively low prices, the National Assembly's Committee of Sciences, Technologies and Environment have reported to lawmakers.


In its latest report, the committee quoted the statistics of the Department of Forestry as saying that as of August, entirely foreign-owned companies have been licensed to grow forests on a total of 288,974 hectares of land.


Hong Kong-owned InnovGreen Company's leased land accounted for 87 percent of it, and so far has been provided with 8,123 hectares. 


However, the company has submitted only US$77,946 to the state budget, or $9.58 per hectare, which is too low, the committee noted in its report.


Of further concern is the fact that some leased lands are located in locations that could undermine national security, while some were already given to locals in writing but later were leased to foreign businesses, it added.


In the meantime, local farmers currently have high demand for land on which to plant forests, due to recent progresses in planting techniques and increases in timber prices, it said.


The committee proposed reviewing leasing lands to foreign companies so that it can secure locals' benefits and national defense and be legal, local news website Vietnamnet reported.


Also in its report, the committee said more wild fires have been recorded this year.


As of July, 5,327.79 hectares of forests across the country suffered fires, four times higher than the previous year, it said, partly attributing to unexpected weather happenings and long droughts.


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