Investors destroy forests as they lease land in Dak Nong under false pretenses

Thousands of hectares of forests in the central province of Dak Nong have been eliminated due to a policy that allows investors to lease forest land.

Many investors have leased land not to develop forest plantation projects but to clear land for rubber growing, or to sell the land to buyers.

Arrests of some investors have been made by the Dak Nong province. The police have arrested Hoang Throng Hieu in Xuan Thoi Thuong Commune of Hoc Mon District in HCM City for damaging forests. Hieu is chair and deputy director of Phuong Linh Dak Nong Company Ltd.

In 2012, Phuong Linh Dak Nong signed a contract with Quang Tin Forestry Company, a state-owned enterprise specializing in forest protection, development and business, for setting up a joint-venture to develop forests and grow rubber on the forested land.

While waiting for the provincial authorities’ approval of the project, Hieu hired Hung Linh Company and one individual to illegally bulldoze 39 hectares of natural forest land in Tuy Duc District, saying that he was trying to “regenerate the natural forest”.

Also in the first week of August, the Dak Nong provincial Environment Police reported to the provincial People’s Committee that a project was damaging 400 hectares of natural forests.

In 2006, the provincial authorities agreed to lease 516 hectares of forest in Dak Song District to the Thang Long Forestry Product Processing Company to develop an afforestation project.

However, Bui Van Tiem, director of the company, never intended to plant forests as promised. He just registered the project to exploit the resources in the forest.

In July 2013, the provincial authorities issued a decision on taking back the leased land after finding that Tiem did nothing to implement the project.

Only when they took back the land did the competent agencies discover that 396.6 hectares of the forests has been eliminated and appropriated illegally.

Dak Nong, a province with a large area of forested land, has proven to be a fertile land for swindlers to “do business”.

In 2009, the provincial authorities took back 159 hectares forest land from Quang Tin Forestry Company and leased the land to Dai Phat Loc Private Enterprise, which promised to run an afforestation and industrial crop project.

However, in 2012, Luong Thi Tham, director of Dai Phat Loc, unexpectedly sold the land to Tran Huy Hoang, a local resident in Binh Phuoc province, for VND5.5 billion.

Pham Thi Thu Hien, director of Bao Chau Company, was also found selling 200 hectares of forest land in Tuy Duc District, land she leased from provincial authorities. Hien earned VND26 billion easily by selling the public land.

The police have discovered that the land reserved for these two projects’ development had been cleared of forests.

Do Ngoc Duyen, director of the Dak Nong Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that thousands of hectares of forests in the province have been cleared in the last few years, and that many investors come to Dak Nong not to develop forests, but to make money illegally.

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