Aug 31, 2009 | 2
Since the 1990s, Vietnam has managed a seemingly impressive forestry trick: Although overall forest cover in the country has increased, so have its exports of wood goods, like patio furniture. So how did the Southeast Asian country manage the feat?
The answer to the riddle: forests felled elsewhere, often illegally. The lumber first came in from neighbors Laos and Cambodia and now is coming from Malaysia, Myanmar and Indonesia, among others, according to a new analysis in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by geographers Patrick Meyfroidt and Eric Lambin of Belgium's Universite Catholique de Louvain.
All told, forest now covers roughly 38 percent of Vietnam, up from around 25 percent since 1987, according to figures the authors compiled from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. That increase is thanks to government policies that restricted logging and "shifted the source of wood from natural forests toward plantations and imports," the researchers wrote. But, they added, the domestic forest industry also shut down "because of a growing scarcity of raw materials."
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