Widespread urban sprawl in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), home to almost 10% of the 98-million population of Vietnam, is obliterating many tree-covered and forest areas to give way for socio-economic development projects. This city has a very low proportion of green cover, at only 0.55 sqm per person, or 45 times lower than the average of cities around the world. This has made life increasingly frustrating and literally suffocating for the urban population.
Our initial investigation showed that 73 hectares of the Can Gio mangroves (HCMC), including 46 hectares of natural forest, have been removed from the area of Can Gio protection forest, although this has not yet been approved by the prime minister. The loss of these forests will negatively impact the local environment, especially on Phu Loi isle. This isle, which is the home of nearly 900 households, has a the total area of just 50 hectares, but up to 30 hectares of natural mangroves here have been removed from the protection forest category.
The aforementioned 73 hectares were just one of the violations found. As reported by HCMC authorities, the total forest area in HCMC has increased since 2016, but an initial review from the records shows that 1,000 hectares of its forests may have been removed from the category of protection forests. Is this true? Where are these forests located? Why have they been recategorized? What does the HCMC government say about this?