The central province of Quang Nam is proposing to remove 1,600 hectares of protective forests to make room for construction.
Le Tri Thanh, chairman of Quang Nam, said the area of protective forests in the east of the province spans over 3,600 hectares. Of this, 2,875 hectares have actual forests, while 761 hectares are either empty or seasonally flooded.
Thanh added the forests aren’t natural and were planted in the 1990s. As the land is mostly sand, there are only acacia and whistling pine trees, situated in poor coastal communes with little to no infrastructure.
No one was taking care of the forests, Thanh noted.
“In 2020, due to storm impacts, 292 hectares of forests were damaged, so the actual forest area left is 2,583 hectares,” he said, adding that traffic infrastructure in the area is conducive for economic growth.
Quang Nam considers its eastern area, where the protective forests are, as a major region for growth, with the Chu Lai open economic zone taking center stage. However, it is facing challenges regarding forest land conversion and clearance.
“Quang Nam is proposing to the prime minister to agree with adjusting the area for coastal protective forests down from 3,600 to 2,000 hectares based on current circumstances,” Thanh said, adding that if the proposal is accepted, 1,600 hectares of land would be used to develop “functional areas”.
The province proposes to government let protective forests be planted along roads and surrounding functional and residential areas. Coastal forests would be maintained and developed through a public-private partnership model, it added.
In response to the proposal, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said if regulations are followed to the letter and are too rigid, there would be no room left to grow.
“Quang Nam must speak out more in other forums… people who don’t fully understand will think forests are forests,” he said, adding that while the official documents may have called it a forest in the past, it might no longer be true nowadays.
Tran Hong Ha, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, said he agreed with PM Chinh, adding that several areas weren’t actually protective forests, but were still called so due to “economic interests”.
Chinh said the reduction in forest area needs to be considered, and the environment ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should discuss the matter.
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