Hundreds of hectares of natural reforest in Tien Lang commune of Tien Yen district in Quang Ninh province, the most beautiful forest in the locality, has been devastated simply because people need charcoal to do cooking. The Cay Mat hamlet, about 10 kilometers far from the Tien Yen center, is now considered the “head office” of illegal lumberjacks. In the area, where there are only tens of households residing, over 30 hectares of forests have been destroyed.

Some hundreds of meters away from the road linking to the Mui Chua port, planted forests between the protective forests, which have been devastated. In front of the Culture House of the Cay Mat hamlet, a big forest land area was burned. A lot of big logs of wood with the diameter of 20-30 cm were seen lying about in disorder on the hill side. It is estimated that thousands of tree trunks have been burned or chopped down. Meanwhile, others were still standing bare because branches and leaves were burnt already.

A local resident said the forest has been burned since mid-July. After the trees were burnt to the ground, people would return to clean up trees and charcoal. The trees which were half burned would be carried away and put into pits for charcoal. The big tree trunks with the diameter of 30-60 cm would be sawn into blanks which would be conceal for house construction later, or sold to wooden furniture workshops.

The Cay Mat hamlet internal road lasts about two kilometers only. From any position on the road, one would be able to see the signs of the forest devastation and the big piles of wood on the sides of the roads

A local resident, who asked to be anonymous, said people have been trying to expand the planted forests by gradually chopping down the natural forests.
 As such, they have firewood to shove, and have money when they sell charcoal. The smoke arising in the forest mostly comes from the coal pits of local residents. He also said that the forest devastation has been occurring in a large scale recently.

Do Van Quyen, Head of the Tien Yen Forest Ranger Unit, minimizes: "The devastated forest does not contain many big trees. Besides ironwood, there are mostly the woods of low quality". When asked when the forest ranger unit has just informed about the deforestation to the district localities, while the devastation has been occurring for the last many months, Quyen said that the forest ranger in the commune did not inform about the case to him.

But Le Tien Chong, Chair of the Tien Yen district People’s Committee, says that the natural forests in Cay Mat hamlet and Tien Lang commune are the best primeval forests that the district strives to protect. "Over the last many years, the local authorities have been implementing a lot of livelihood projects for local residents in order to help protect the forests," he said to Vietnam Net. "We have just received the report about the devastation and we have just sent an inspection group to clarify the issue."


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