Natural Resources » Plants

January 24, 2021, 6:51 pm

Forests devastated as people hunt for medicinal herbs

(16:17:55 PM 22/12/2014)
( - Illegal herb exploitation has gradually eliminated forests in the central region, including national parks and sanctuaries.


medicinal herbs, forest devastation, deforestation


Nghe An and other localities in the central region have been well known for their various varieties of rare herbs. The forests in western Nghe An province are rich with flora and fauna but biodiversity has declined because of human activity.


Thousands of people earn their living picking herbs in the forest every day. They collect herbs and sell to Chinese merchants. As the number of collectors has been increasing, the herbs have been disappearing rapidly.


A local official said he fears that the forests will turn into bare hills one day.


"The Chinese offer to buy herbs at high prices. Locals are not hesitant to turn over every inch of soil to find herbs for sale", he said.


The herbs are purchased by traders to export to China via the land border or to be supplied to the domestic market.  Along with the herb-searching movement, rare herbs are getting exhaust while the forest is being destroyed.


The stretch of Highway No 71 which goes through Con Cuong town is well known as the place for the local people to gather and dry herbs.


Dinh Kieu Trinh, a local woman, said herbs are collected from remote communes of Mon Son, Luc Da, Chi Khe, Binh Chuan and Thach Ngan.


“Dozens of tons of herbs are collected every day,” Trinh said. Hundreds of tons of trees in the forests are cut down every day to provide herbs to dozens of merchants in Con Cuong district.


There is a collection depot located next to the Pu Mat National Park’s entrance door. The owner of the depot said she has been doing business for the last three years.


"In the past, I could buy dozens of tons of herbs every day, but now I can buy several tons only, because the herbs are getting rarer", she said.


She said she doesn’t know how the Chinese merchants use the herbs.


“They say the herbs will be used to make medicine, but I am not sure about that,” she said, adding that Chinese buy "many kinds of herbs".


The local official said at first people mostly collected herbs in the forest areas reserved for production, or buffer zones of protective forests in national parks.


However, as the supply began to run out, they now tend to travel more deeply into the core zone of national parks and sanctuaries to look for herbs.


The official noted that besides rare and precious herbs in protected forests, people are also cutting down precious trees with impunity.


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