Ho Chi Minh’s comment that “forests are gold” clearly made an impression on Chu Ly Ha Giang. The head of one of 36 households in Lieng Bon hamlet that have been tasked with patrolling and protecting a little over 850 acres, Giang echoes the father of modern Vietnam when asked about the importance of forests. “For us, forests are precious, and they are precious to the state as well,” he says. “Forests are gold and we manage them very closely.” For his work ensuring no illegal logging or farming encroaches on the 23-plus hectares he is directly responsible for, Giang receives about 3.8 million Vietnamese Dong (about $164 dollars) each quarter. It’s money that makes a big difference to Giang, who has eight children and six grandchildren. Along with income from farming, the PFES payments cover living expenses and – most important to Giang – the cost of education. “The state has now supported [us] with schools and roads and our children have sufficient schooling,” he says. “Income from coffee, persimmons, and other short-term crops helps with children’s schooling, which is our top priority.”

Forests are Gold

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Country Vietnam

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