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Could leasing forests to eco-tourist developers help save them?   2010-01-21 - VietNamNet/TT

Kien Giang province authorities has approved a controversial plan to rent forests to investors for them to develop eco-tourist projects.


Lam Hoang Sa, deputy chairman of the Kien Giang People’s Committee

Lam Hoang Sa, deputy chairman of the Kien Giang People’s Committee, in an interview given to Tuoi tre, defended the move:


“With the project on leasing forests, we aim to mobilize all possible sources and get them involved in forest management, protection and development. This will help gradually upgrade the quality of the forests and ensure sustainable development.


Tuoi tre: Will the leasing of forests badly affect the fauna and botany of the forests?


Lam Hoang Sa: I strongly believe that when forests are leased, they will not become exhausted but will develop well. Before handing over the forests, we will examine the forests’ situation and we will set rules. For example, we will know where there are many plants, where there are less plants, which areas could be open for construction and how high the construction density can be.


Investors, who take on forests, will be able to do business by taking full advantages of the landscapes, the nature and the fresh atmosphere of the forests.


I don’t think that the forests, after they are handed over to tourism developers, will become devastated. If so, tourism investors themselves will suffer.


Tuoi tre: Kien Giang authorities previously had a steering committee on leasing forest land, and now it calls it “forest environment leasing”.  What’s the difference?


Sa: The name of the steering committee on forest land leasing may cause misunderstanding.


The aim of the project is to lease the ‘forest environment’, not ‘forest land’. It means that investors can develop tourism within the biological diversification of forests. We are not leasing forest land, so that people can use it as the wish and devastate the land.


We will set up the guidelines for the individuals and institutions who rent the forests. Firstly, they must be financially capable enough and have enough experience in forest management and development. They also need to have a long term strategy on forest development


Tuoi tre: Why are the forests on Phu Quoc island not be available for lease?


Sa: We will have a specific project for Phu Quoc island.


The project on forest environment leasing represents around 6,800 hectares, located mostly in U Minh Thuong, An Minh, Kien Luong, Kien Hai, Hon Dat districts and Ha Tien town.


Partners who lease forest environmenst must commit to preserve and develop the leased forests.

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