VietNamNet Bridge - Tourists visiting Sapa Township in northern Lao Cai province in the springtime could hardly forget the vast number of blossoming peach trees.
|Visitors to Sapa|
The big garden of peach flowers in several communes surrounding Ham Rong Mountain bustle with tree purchases in preparation for Tet (lunar New Year).
A Ham Rong village patriarch, Ma A Chau, sighed as he said: “There were hundreds of households planting peach trees for fruit, but today they just cut the flower branches and often even the trees themselves to sell. The picturesque gardens are going to disappear.
Chau added his regrets that local authorities had done nothing to prevent this.
There has been an increasing trend for people in cities, parricularly Hanoi , to buy a peach flower branch or tree taken from the forest, despite prices that are triple or quadruple that of a tree cultivated in the capital city. The reason given is that the colour of flowers are more beautiful, and the shape of trees from forests look more “natural.”
According to merchants, the consumer trend is to purchase a big tree, which pushes prices up. The big profit is the impetus for local people to sell their trees.
Ly My Chan in Ta Phin commune regretted the selling off of the trees, but also said she would sell more since the income would help her have a better Tet.
About two weeks before the lunar New Year, peach trees and branches are transported by trucks to cities.
Nguyen Van Cong, former head of the Sapa Forest Rangers, said there was nothing that his group could do to prevent local people from cutting trees, since peach trees are not classified as precious timber to be protected.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Phuc, deputy chairman of Sapa People’s Council, said locals should not be blamed for harvesting wild peach trees.
Phuc said that peach flowers had become a hot commodity over the years, and locals had the right to sell their products.
“They used to sell peach fruit, but it did not bring much profit, so it is quite understandable if they switch to selling flowers for a bigger profits,” he said.
Phuc did admit that fewer peach flowers did somehow affect the landscape in an area that is important for tourism.
He added that local authorities recognise the importance of peach flowers to tourism, but the only thing they can do is to encourage planters to keep their peach trees and increase their income by planning medicinal herbs and other flowers.
(Source: VNA/ND)Update from: http://english.vietnamnet.vn//travel/2008/12/820815/