Update: 06:38 | 21/10/2020
(BGO) - When the autumn winds carry a little cold, it is also the time when the chestnut forests in Luc Nam district (Bac Giang province) give fruit. The small, tasty chestnuts now bring to local people a great source of income.
A specialty of mountain and forest
To reach the chestnut forest of the family of Hoang Cao Khai in Vinh Hong village, Luc Son commune (Luc Nam), we had to climb up the mountain side. Khai said while walking that “Before, the chestnut forests spread down to the foot of the mountain, but then people gradually cut them down to plant eucalyptus. Now there is only a very small area for chestnut trees to grow. My family tried to keep nearly one hectare, and the chestnut trees are about 20 years old, bearing fruit from more than 10 years”.
A chestnut forest in Tu Son area (Luc Nam).
At a forest area that had been cleared, we met Le Thi Ha picking up chestnuts. In the whole morning, she collected only about 10 kg, but in return the price was quite high, from 30,000-40,000 VND (1.29-1.73 USD)per kg. Before the chestnut harvest season, the forest owner has to clear the vegetation for convenient collection, thus limiting losses.
Many families have tried the way of spreading the canvas under the tree and shaking it to let the chestnuts fall, but it was ineffective despite large investment. Therefore, picking by hand is still more popular.
Currently, chestnut forests in Luc Nam district have been allocated to nearly 500 households for management and exploitation. In recent years, being fully aware of the need to preserve the chestnut forests, special attention has been paid to protection work. Local leaders and forest owners must take responsibility if deforestation and forest encroachment occur.
Now, Luc Nam district still houses the largest area of chestnut forest in the North with more than 1,100 ha, mainly in the communes of Truong Son, Luc Son, Vo Tranh, Huyen Son and Nghia Phuong, which people often call the Tu Son area. Each year, chestnut forests produce an average of 1,000 tonnes of chestnuts, earning locals tens of billions of dong.
Luc Nam chestnut forests not only produce the special fruit but also protect the rare gene, create a livelihood and preserve the typical ecosystem in the west of Yen Tu Mountain Range.
Efforts to keep chestnut forests
At some time, Luc Nam chestnut forests have been severely encroached upon, the cutting of chestnut trees has become widespread and the chestnut area has been narrowed. Pham Van The, Chairman of the Luc Son communal People's Committee, said eight out of 14 villages in the commune have chestnut forests with an area of about 80 ha.
In the years with good harvest, tonnes of chestnuts have brought billions of dong to people of all ethnic groups in the commune. Recently, some people and establishments have collected chestnuts for processing activated carbon for export, making chestnut forests even more threatened.
To prevent this activity, the communal People's Committee has assigned staff to supervise each village and hamlet. Any case related to the infringement of chestnut forests has been detected and handled promptly.
With an effort to bring chestnuts to the market, in 2015, the National Office Of Intellectual Property Of Vietnam (the Ministry of Science and Technology) granted a certificate recognizing the collective trademark "Luc Nam Chestnut". According to Vu Van Son, head of the district Office for Agriculture and Rural Development, the district has set up a fund to support families in caring and conserving natural chestnut forest.
Forestry officials in communes have often stayed in the localities to strictly manage the remaining chestnut area. The communes has encouraged and created conditions for traders to buy chestnuts to supply to consumers, thereby increasing the value and efficiency of this specialty.
Luc Nam district has promoted communication work so that locals can understand the value of chestnut forests and then be determined to keep the existing acreage. The shifting of chestnut to other crops has been prevented. Seeing the benefits from chestnut forests, in recent years, Tu Son people have become more aware in protecting and developing this precious plant, aiming to expand the area and raise the quality of Luc Nam chestnut products.