Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

By Hoang Tao   October 2, 2021 | 10:04 am GMT+7
Local residents tasked with protecting the 100-hectare Linh forest are doing their job well, minimizing human destruction including logging and other harmful activities.
Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

Classified as a special forest that serves nothing but conservation purpose, Linh stands beside Hien Thanh and Vinh Hoa communes in Vinh Linh District and is lined by roads and neighborhoods.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

Since 1977, the responsibility of protecting the forest has been handed over to the locals. One eye-catching feature of this forest is that every September, its chestnut trees bloom and add a brilliant white touch to the green canopy.

The forest hosts over 200 species of trees, several of them rare. Not many animals live in the forest as it is situated too close to populated neighborhoods. So its fauna is limited to birds, squirrels and few other animals.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

One tree that has a main truck with diameter large enough for 3-4 adults to wrap their arms around it.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

In 1977, Nguyen Dinh Trong (L), of Hien Thanh Commune, and some other locals were tasked with protecting the forest from illegal encroachment. With several neighborhoods close by, people used to enter the forest to harvest wood, fruits and even cut branches, he said.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

Having spent over 44 years guarding it, Trong knows every nook and cranny of the forest. As Hien Thanh is a new commune forged by a merger of Vinh Hien and Vinh Thanh communes, its boundary marker has been changed recently.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

At the beginning of the rainy season, seedlings sprout from the forest floor.

The forest was badly damaged by heavy bombing during wartime. Many craters are evidence of the destruction caused.

"Our forest is now depleted. There are few young trees, so please don't collect seeds and cut down trees. Allow the forest to grow again," Trong frequently tells people who enter the forest looking for wood.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

A forest ranger on patrol with Trong uses a mobile phone to photograph a mushroom.

Ranger Nguyen Thu Huyen said the forest plays a vital role in the lives of locals as it regulates the climate of an entire sub-region.

"In the summer, groundwater gets depleted, but there's still enough water in this area to prevent water shortages," she said.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

Bunches of chestnuts fall to the ground in season. Several types of fruits and nuts are available in the forest, like chestnuts and white olives.

Several years back, people used to harvest white olives in the forest and sell them for VND10,000-15,000 (44-66 U.S. cents) per kilogram. But, due to the ongoing pandemic, fewer people have done so as the chestnuts can't be sold.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

Trong stands next to a paper mulberry tree. He said that over the years, he has successfully thwarted attempts to steal trees and wildlife from the forest.

In 2014, Trong found a group of 11 people entering the forest to try to dig up a tree and sell it. As he was outnumbered, he pretended to allow the group to take the tree outside the forest. On the verge of their getting out of the forest, he called for reinforcements and had them arrested.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

In recent years, several vines have killed trees by preventing them from photosynthesizing effectively.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

Trong has proposed to local authorities and rangers that some vines are cut to save the trees. But the rangers have responded that as a special-use forest, humans are not allowed to interfere.

In fact, the forest was handed over to an eco-tourism firm over three years ago, but no project has been initiated to date.

Quang Tri residents protect rare forest to let it grow again

About 1,500 meters to the south of the forest, authorities have built a small dam to keep water in the forest from leaking out. This has meant that around 200 hectares of paddy fields in two communes are assured of irrigation. During the rainy season, the water in the reservoir is discharged and fresh water collected.

Nguyen Thuan Hieu, deputy chairman of Hien Thanh Commune, said the people have protected the forest well, keeping harmful human interventions to a minimum.

 
 
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