Vietnam Ecology & EnvironmentVietnam's environment is not in the worst shape, but there are some troubling signs. Because Vietnam is a poor, densely populated agricultural country, humans often compete head-on with native plants and animals for the same resources.
Deforestation is perhaps the most serious problem. Originally, almost the whole of Vietnam was covered with dense forests. Since the arrival of the first human beings many millennia ago, Vietnam has been progressively denuded of forest cover. While 44% of the original forest cover was extant in 1943, by 1976 only 29% remained, by 1983 only 24% was left and in 1995 it was down to 20%. Fortunately, recent reforestation projects by the Forest Ministry, including banning of unprocessed timber exports in 1992, have seen a significant rise in forest cover - in early 1998 the coverage was 8%, and a year later in 1999 it was up to 30%.
In addition, the Ministry of Education has made the planting and taking care of trees by pupil’s part of the curriculum. However, even at this rate, reforestation can not keep up with forest losses.
Each hectare of land stripped of vegetation contributes to the flooding or areas downstream from water catchments areas, irreversible soil erosion (upland soils arc especially fragile), the silting up of rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs, the loss or wildlife habitat and unpredictable climatic changes.
Vietnam has so far suffered little industrial pollution largely because there is little industry. However, the nation's rapid economic and population growth indicates environmental trouble ahead. The dramatic increase in noisy, smoke-spewing motorbikes over the past few years should he taken as a sign or abominations to come.