Authorities of a district in central Quang Ngai Province in October last year allowed a business to cut down nearly 600 pines in a designated bid at dirt cheap prices, an unlawful decision that has been suspended by a competent agency.
The provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recently said it has suspended the felling of these pine trees, which are 35 years old, in two communes of Ba To District, as it is illegal.
The district’s authorities said these trees have died.
“We have coordinated with the provincial forestry protection sub-department to set up an inspection team to investigate the case,” Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) newspaper quoted Tran Ngoc Thuong, deputy director of the department, as saying.
In October 2014, the Ba To District People’s Committee designated Hoang Lam Phu Co. Ltd. as the contractor for the removal of 398 pines in Ba Cung Commune and 195 others in Ba To Commune, without any approval from the provincial People’s Committee and verification by the department, said Thuong.
Under the designated tender, Hoang Lam Phu was required to pay a bid price of VND65 million (US$3,000) for the trees, which has a total volume of 216 cubic meters, according to news website VnExpress.
That means the designated bidder paid only VND300,000 ($13.9) per cubic meter, while the market price of pine wood is as much as VND15 million ($694) per cubic meter, VnExpress said.
Le Han Phong, chairman of the Ba To District People’s Committee, admitted that local authorities were wrong to choose a bidder for the tree cutting work and then allow it to chop off the trees without getting prior approval from the provincial People’s Committee.
Phong, however, explained that in late 2013, local residents turned to planting “keo” trees, with the scientific name of Acacia, in their pine growing area, as “keo” have a higher economic value than pines.
They have since let pines go uncared, even hammering nails on them, leading to their death.
The authorities thus wanted to remove the dead trees and plant new ones, Phong said.
Pham Hong Van, director of the management board for preventive forests in eastern Ba To District, said that in 2012 the board managed nearly 25 hectares of pine forest, but the area has shrunk to only six hectares, as the majority of locals have turned to “keo” instead of pines.
Another case of mass tree cutting occurred in Hanoi in March and it was suspended by local authorities on March 20, following public objections.
The suspension was put in place after about 500 of a total of 6,700 trees subject to the felling had been chopped down.
The 6,700 trees are on 190 streets in ten urban districts in Hanoi, local authorities said, elaborating that they include 4,500 trees unsuitable for the city and 2,208 others with leaning trunks that badly affect the landscape and threaten the safety of people.
However, members of the public directed fierce protests at the hasty implementation of the plan and the felling of many old and green trees, whereas Hanoi leaders had said they would only cut decaying trees and those at risk of falling down unexpectedly.
Many people then stuck the appeal “Do Not Cut Me” on the trunks of myriad trees around the city, and set up a Facebook page, “6,700 People for 6,700 Trees,” which attracted more than 62,175 “likes” as of 11:00 am on Monday morning, April 13.