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The Sad Story of Da Lat’s Disappearing Pine Trees

Known as “the city of a thousand pine trees,” unregulated deforestation and development have taken their toll on Da Lat’s forests and pine tree population.

There was once a time when many of Da Lat’s thoroughfares were lined with tall, majestic pine trees.

According to VietnamNet, this number has dwindled to 15 since the city began to develop in earnest about a decade ago.

Many locals, who have deep connections to the surrounding forests, are increasingly unhappy about this trend:

“Da Lat’s residents felt a great anguish when the large forest on the hill near the education department was “killed.” The hill was leveled, while the trees on it, step by step, were cut down.”

“Nguyen Minh Lam, who has been living in Da Lat for the last 45 years, said in the past, thick and interminable pine forests could be seen everywhere, while nowadays, only several pine trees are getting thin in the city. Lam is afraid that Da Lat, which is called the “city of thousands of pine trees" would have no more pine trees in the future.”

One of the saddest practices occurs when people, trying to set up houses in the forest, use acid to saturate tree roots, causing them to die en masse. Once trees are dead, they petition the government for authorized tree removal.

While there are concerted efforts in Vietnam to protect the environment, they are often ineffective or unenforceable in the face of economic growth. In Vietnam’s battle to balance growth and preservation, the former is clearly winning.

We fear that there may be a time when the country looks back in shame at what it lost in its sprint to become a developed nation.


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