Vietnam: Lack of government funding to fight illegal logging is still a problem

Forest wardens in central Quang Nam Province have seized around 4,700
cubic meters of illegally logged lumber this year, leaving them with
stockpiles of hardto-move wood. Dai Loc District’s forest warden alone
has more than 334 cubic meters of wood, which has filled their storage
areas and spilled out onto the footpath.

In Nam Giang District and
Thanh My Town, the seized wood is being weathered by the sun and rain.
A provincial forest warden official, who didn’t want to be named, said
it was hard to sell the timber because the prices were high and the
procedure to bid for large batches of wood was complicated.
Construction in the area has slowed recently, meaning there was little
demand for timber, the official noted. He said local timber dealers
had colluded and criticized the quality of the wood in a bid to drive
the price down. Diep Thanh Phong, head of the Quang Nam Forest Warden
Department, said the officials recently had to reduce the price of
some batches of wood by 20-30 percent to find buyers. A ranger from
Dai Loc District said the stockpiles meant authorities had no money to
pay the people who transported the seized timber out of the forests.
“The first time we tell them that we can only give them an IOU, they
smile,” the ranger said. “The second time they keep silent but the
next time they get this news they shout and swear at us. No one has
the spare time to work for nothing.” Forest rangers in nearby Da Nang
City sometimes have to chop the wood into small pieces for firewood
when they can’t cart the wood back to their offices.

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