In the 70s, the forest in Vietnam used to surround at least three quarters of the Greater Mekong region. But in the last 30 years, more than 30% of the forest disappeared, due to a rapid population growth, uncoordinated land-use planning, poor law enforcement, increasing market demands and policies promoting short-term economic growth. These last years the deforestation in Vietnam has skyrocketed. The disappearance of forest is often correlated to the construction of infrastructure projects like road, bridges and dams, which facilitate easier access to other forested areas. Deforestation leads to other consequences such as the fragmentation of natural spaces and animal poaching. The most worrying aspect is that the greater Mekong region will see 80% of his global forest lost by 2030 placing it in the 11 deforestation hotspot.
Vietnam, which used to be known as the Green Hell, has an environment conductive to a lavish vegetation such as in Lao Cai where a rare combo of bamboo and conifers can be observed. Both rainforest and monsoon forest are present in the country. With its abundant flora, Vietnam was still wooded by 43% back in 1943. According to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, it dropped to 16% only 50 years later, including 10% from “protected” areas risking to see its primary tropical forest completely disappear soon if nothing is done. Deforestation can have serious consequences. The soil being no more protected, it is more easily subjected to mudslides and can sometimes be washed out to the point of no return: regeneration is no longer possible. And the thin but fertile layer of widespread red basalt in highland areas ends up in the tributaries of the Mekong River, even reaching the delta, contributing to its obstruction.
Vietnam is rapidly expanding, arrestingly running after development. Having been protected from debts and impoverishment for a long time due to its closed regime, the country has been opening itself to a market economy since the fall of the USSR, while preserving its communist structure. The economic pressure regarding the environment being high, the country has to keep an eye on its “green gold” to keep foreign financing on coming. However because of the chase of economic benefits, forests still suffer from deforestation. What is left for us to solve the problem? Education is probably the best medium through which the issue of deforestation can be tackled. Teaching children about the consequences of clear-cutting the forest on the environment and on humanity might be the best solution for a brighter future. Let’s not forget that it’s the forest that makes it possible for us to breathe.