Reforesting the Vietnamese Warzone

Jungles blasted clear during the Vietnam war four decades ago are now at the center of a debate in the country about how forests should be recovered.
December 1, 2010, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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The battle is between native and non-native trees, business interests and local villagers.

"Thirty-five years after North Vietnamese tanks entered Ho Chi Minh City - formerly Saigon - and four decades after U.S. forces destroyed or damaged large swaths of Vietnamese forest with bombs and defoliants, this landscape is a window into Vietnam's struggle to regenerate its once-abundant forests. With much of the country's woodlands and jungle lost or damaged over the past half-century by war, the spread of agriculture, and logging, Vietnam's forestry experts are split over what the nation's new forests should look like.

On the one side are those who would replace the lost forests with acacia and eucalyptus plantations - alien, monocultural forms of regeneration that supply abundant wood products but support little biodiversity. On the other side are scientists and conservationists who would like to regenerate forests of Hopea odorata and other native species, which are slow-growing but support a far wider variety of indigenous plants, animals, birds, and insects."

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Published on Thursday, November 4, 2010 in Yale Environment 360
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