Deforestation increased 55 percent during the past year in Vietnam’s Dak Nong province, reports the Vietnam News Agency.
At least 440 hectares (1100 acres) of tropical forest were illegally logged in the central highland province. Protected areas are also being logged.
Forest officials attribute the increase to high commodity prices, which incentivize the conversion of forest for cropland, as well as lack of staff and resources among companies that have leased forest concessions.
Vietnam has one of the world’s highest rates of primary forest loss. Between 1990 and 2005 the country lost 78 percent of its old-growth forests. Much of these were replaced with industrial plantations — overall forest cover has actually increased 38 percent since 1990.
Plantations are biologically impoverished relative to natural forests. They also store less carbon.