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Bac Giang Favours Forestry Firms, Ignores Residents: Investigators

It has been seen that after the company exploits the resources of a natural forest, including its trees, it has failed to designate it as an off limits area to allow re-growth. This, in turn, has allowed locals to further destroy tracts of natural forest to grow crops.

The report also criticised Yên Thế District authorities for negligence in forest management, especially its failure to maintain accurate maps and update cadastral records.

The group recommended that the disputes with local resident be settled clearly in line with existing regulations.

Residents’ rights ignored

Many protestors have noted that in all of the State’s afforestation programmes, like the “Greening the Barren Hills” Programme 327, the World Food Organisation-supported PAM afforestation programme, or the 5-million-hectare reforestation Programme 661, the guiding principle has been to make locals the main protectors of the forest, and that in this process, they use the natural resources sustainably.

In addition, forest use permits were to be issued to households to ensure stability and evoke a natural desire to protect the source of their livelihood, the forest.

But the perception that this guiding principle has been ignored to favour companies is further strengthened by another recent decision by Bắc Giang Province to lease 1,400ha of forestland to the Trường Lộc Company for a mind-boggling VNĐ43.2 (less than US$0.002) per sq.m per year, not to mention a land lease waiver for 15 years, the Tài nguyên & Môi trường (Natural Resources and Environment) newspaper reported.

In light of this information, the public have raised concerns about major wrongdoings in the implementation of the forestland allocation policies and policies that trample the rights of residents of remote and disadvantaged areas who directly live off the forests.