I was one of the unfortunates to be bitten by a snake out in the bush. The Trees Speak in Vietnamese is a catchphrase referring to how in the Vietnam War, Americans struggled with the guerilla warfare of the Viet Cong who would often fight in dense jungle, leading to the anxious phrase "The trees speak in Vietnamese." Photo via Flickr user manhhai. The International Union for Conservation of Nature said in 1998 that a “long period of selective logging” had reduced Vietnam’s Hopea odorata stock to “small groups of trees or isolated individuals.” The Viet Nam News reported this month that illegal logging was so rampant in 2010 that four forest rangers had been killed and 44 injured trying to stop it.Hopea odorata is a species in the Dipterocarp genus, a family of large tropical hardwoods native to the lowland forests of Southeast Asia. These activities represented the first instances of native communist parties in Indochina taking an active role in mass labor struggles. The aftermath of a November 27, 1965 battle at the Michelin Rubber plantation that claimed more than 100 lives. There are other complications. With large swaths of forest destroyed by wartime defoliants, and even larger areas lost to post-war logging, Vietnam has set an ambitious goal for regenerating its woodlands. Thanks to improved technology, partly developed to fuel the massive military machines involved in World War II, they were quickly able to surpass previous output, with plantations in Cambodia and Vietnam hitting a combined 75,0000 tons annually. In 1943, Vietnam used to possess more than 400 000 ha of mangroves. On a muggy morning near Vinh Cuu, a town about 60 miles north of Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, a blue Toyota pickup whizzed by dense tropical scrub. Rubber plantations provide evidence of some of the worst abuses of natives at the hands of the French, while later serving numerous purposes for a range of private and public actors. The Vietnam War was no different, and there among all of the combat, lodged deep within the remote, dangerous jungles permeated by gun smoke, blood, mosquitos, and the cacophony of war are strange encounters with things that should not exist. The only thing standing between the country and the ocean is a tree. Thirty-five years after North Vietnamese tanks entered Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon — and four decades after U.S. forces destroyed ordamaged large swaths of Vietnamese forest with bombs and defoliants, this landscape is a window into Vietnam’s struggle to regenerate its once-abundant forests. If production conditions and environmental impacts have drastically improved since the 19th and 20th centuries, we could possibly justify the continued use of rubber, as long as we acknowledge those who suffered in the past to make that possible. Terms and Slang . The first recorded use of the material by humans dates back to the 1600 BCE Mesoamerican Olmecs, or "latex people," who used it to make a ball for a game they played. Attempting to land a plane with synthetic tires would put all cargo and passengers at great risk every flight. Series Description. The National Coordinators of Vietnam Veterans Against the War once wrote: “We supposedly valued human life while our enemy did not. Michelin Rubber Plantation was located near Dầu Tiếng District in Bình Dương Province, 72 km northwest of Saigon.The plantation was established by the Michelin company in 1925 and at 12,400 hectares (31,000 acres) it was the largest rubber plantation in Vietnam. Yet we paid the owners of the Michelin plantations $600 for each rubber tree we damaged, while the family of a slain Vietnamese child got no more than $120 in payout for a life.”. These are the best Vietnam … This was done to expose hiding enemy troops. The Trees of Vietnam’s Tropical Forests SEARCH NEWS 03/10/2019. As Vietnam cultivates its own expertise and experience, companies have increasingly looked beyond the borders to Laos and Cambodia to establish plantations. He attempted to satisfy America’s automobile-fueled rubber needs by creating his own latex-centric city in the Brazilian rainforest. When America ramped up its presence, it mostly picked up where the departing French left off. vietnam war Facing It “My clouded reflection eyes me. The tripwire was then tied to each grenade. “We have to have a compromise between production and conservation forests,” said Ha Huy Thinh, director of the Research Center for Forestry Improvement at the Forest Science Institute of Vietnam. The Vietnam War (also known as Second Indochina War or American War in Vietnam) lasted from 1 November 1955–30 April 1975, (19 years, 5 months, 4 weeks and 1 day). Founded in 1995 by Danaan Parry and Jerilyn Brusseau — whose brother, U.S. Army helicopter pilot Lt. Daniel Cheney, was shot down and killed during the Vietnam War in 1969 — PeaceTrees Vietnam is a shining example to the world of how tragedy and conflict can be transformed into peace and partnership. The vietnam war Pictures That Moved Them Most While the Vietnam War raged — roughly two decades’ worth of bloody and world-changing years — compelling images … Although the Dipterocarp forests of Southeast Asia support a “substantial proportion of the world’s biodiversity,” they are “among the fastest disappearing in the world,” according to Switzerland-based researcher Chris Kettle. The stories of great bloodshed and barbarism certainly warrant further discussions outside the scope of this article’s focus on rubber in Vietnam, while providing illuminating parallels. This cruel reality seemed to matter little to the colonial overseers, who viewed the workers as expendable. Financial support aside, many Vietnamese agricultural extension workers lack proper training on how to reintroduce native trees, said Christopher Beadle of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO. Quang Van Dinh, head of Tham A Village in Son La Province, told Vietnam News: "Before, when they [the rubber corporation] called upon the people to contribute land, they said the yield would come in seven years and the money would help people escape poverty. While the French did eventually station troops at some locations, often to meet their own means of launching military maneuvers, they also refused to guard others, which necessitated their abandonment. Recognized by UNESCO as a worldwide biosphere in 2000, the Can Gio mangrove forest is considered as the “green lungs” of Saigon’s population. As of 2018, Vietnam is the world’s third-largest producer and exporter of rubber, boasting shipments of 1.58 million tons, worth over US$2.1 billion, a 14.5% increase in volume over the previous year. In the war of resistance against the French, the tree became a secret bunker to shelter guerrillas. Can Geothermal Power Play a Key Role in the Energy Transition? French companies controlled rubber plantations well into the 1960s, but production declined, hitting near zero by the 1970s. The Viet Minh successfully used them as examples of colonial exploitation and placed them at the center of propaganda campaigns while recruiting among their workforce. by Perry Deane Young. 1967, Dak To, South Vietnam, American soldiers use fallen trees for cover during the costly fighting for Hill 875 Erstklassige Nachrichtenbilder in hoher Auflösung bei Getty Images It provides more than 5,000 jobs with annual salaries of VND7 million per month, compared to the national average of VND3.2 million a month, though figures vary greatly across region and occupation. They paid bribes and ransoms to insurgent forces while requesting help and providing support to the southern government. Rubber also plays a role in carbon emissions, in regards to both the trees and the energy needed for latex processing and transport. The Americans sought to defoliate the trees and bushes, so that enemy soldiers would be exposed. Also known as the Sacred Fig, the Bodhi is recognizable by its heart-shaped leaves, its distinctive canopy which flares out horizontally, and the multiple vines which grow around its thick trunk like veins. Editor's note: Happy April Fools' Day! The safety pins on the grenades are removed and the explosives are put into cans, which hold down the striker levers. How could we produce enough to fill our bellies with those little fields?". Colonial officials knew it was in their best interest to present the region as uninhabited, and thus free for the taking. In late 2018, it became a catchphrase in memes about the Vietnam War. To destroy one rubber tree is to kill one invader.” All told, 10% of all high-value trees and 17,000 of a total 150,000 plantation hectares were ruined. The Ben Hai river region, where the acacia forests are situated, was heavily destroyed during the Vietnam War and is therefore in need of further development. These French operators were often caught between adversaries and played one off another as it suited their interests. From 1980 to 1990, forest cover in Vietnam declined from 32 percent to 27 percent of the country. In Vietnam, much of the damage has already been done, and people are left to lament what has already been lost. Acting as huge natural filters to clean the air and waste water coming from industrial zones along … In order to prevent the enemy from coming from the North, the soldiers had to destroy everything along the 17th parallel, even trees. This was done to expose hiding enemy troops. When the forest gave way to fields, the truck stopped on a stretch of road that straddled two tree plantations — one of imported Australian acacia, and the other of a native hardwood, Hopea odorata, also known as thingan or takian. The climate in the highlands of southern Vietnam offered ideal conditions for rubber trees. Famous as the tree under which Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment and thus became the Buddha, the Bodhi Tree, which means ‘perfect knowledge’, has strong spiritual associations and is found in most temple grounds in Vietnam. "Oh it’s easy to go to the rubber and hard to return, / Men leave their corpses, women depart as ghosts. An Australia-based forestry expert, Tran Lam Dong, reports that defoliants destroyed about 7,700 square miles of forests — six percent of Vietnam’s total land area. “The American army used planes to kill our forests,” said Tran Van Mui, director of the Vinh Cuu Nature Reserve, which since 2009 has promoted a $1.5 million program of native tree reintroduction among villagers. In his expansive book, Rubber and the Making of Vietnam, historian Michitake Aso goes into great detail about that process and its particulars, of which this article provides a shallow overview. While reunification would usher in a period of peace and prosperity, nothing represents a greater what could have been than the rubber industry, which took years to rebound following decades of senseless devastation. By Mike Ives More about Mike Ives →, Never miss a feature! From over 60,000 tons produced annually to virtually none, the industry fell into disarray. Dec 25, 2013 - Transporting the Christmas tree in Saigon, 1970 From traveling in a car and typing on a computer to practicing safe sex and undergoing a medical operation, the commodity is essential for experiencing the world as you know it. 314 videos Play all Vietnam War - Country Music Vietnam War Song Project Derrik Roberts - There Won't Be Any Snow (Christmas in the Jungle) - Duration: 3:03. Perhaps most troubling is the industry’s use of child labor. Although the trees were good for business — by 2008, 850,000 hectares of domestic acacia and eucalyptus trees were supporting Vietnam’s $185 million-per-year wood-chip export industry — it became clear that acacia and eucalyptus monocultures didn’t protect watersheds or conserve biodiversity as native trees did. Investigating their complex history and ecological footprint helps articulate the complex interplay between commodities, exploitation and development, as well as man and nature. During the Vietnam War, U.S. forces sprayed 72 million liters of herbicides, including Agent Orange, on the Vietnamese countryside and dropped roughly 13 million tons of bombs, according to Jakarta-based forestry expert Chris Lang. Separated from their families and communities, they were far less likely to flee. Vietnamese members of rubber unions in particular, argued that while they could serve important roles in resisting and overthrowing the French, their basic functionalities and infrastructure needed to remain intact so as to provide the future Vietnamese economy with necessary funds. In Brunei, a study has shown that acacias convert disturbed forests into “nearly mono-specific stands.”, Boi, now 70 and semi-retired from Vietnam’s Forest Inventory and Planning Institute, hopes that as trees like Hopea odorata are planted across central and southern Vietnam in coming decades, stands of Australian trees will gradually yield to healthy native forests. In War-Scarred Landscape, Vietnam Replants Its Forests. A rubber plantation in Bien Hoa, 1964. The 2016 horror movie Co Hau Gai (The Housemaid) takes place on a Vietnamese rubber plantation during the colonial era’s waning years. There are more than 1,500 species of woody plants in the country, ranging from commercially important hardwoods, such as ebony and teak, to palms, mangroves, and bamboos. Our consumer-centric commodification of nature may soon lead to an inhospitable planet, to say nothing of the suffering of our fellow humans along the way. They believed that extracting goods such as coffee, tea, rice and sugar, in addition to controlling local markets for items such as alcohol, could pay for their costly presence in the region. The forests of Vietnam can be divided into two broad categories: evergreen forests, which include conifers, and deciduous forests. Rather than the previously offered idea that the parasite can’t take hold in Vietnam’s ecosystem, it is possible that the geographic distance that has so far kept it out, but experts are not quite sure why an outbreak hasn't occurred here yet. Colonial officials knew it was in their best interest to present the region as uninhabited, and thus free for the taking. In a trend eerily reminiscent of colonial activities, these corporations are rarely snatching up unoccupied lands; instead, they force ethnic minorities to relocate, often through illegal or immoral means. All Rights Reserved, The Harrowing History of Vietnam's Rubber Plantations, plantation employee and writer Tran Tu Binh, plantation owners were rumored to be so rich, sent Hevea seeds to the Saigon Botanical Garden, Data from 11 of the 20 biggest plantations, The earlier murder of Alfred François Bazin, annual salaries of VND7 million per month, national average of VND3.2 million a month, complicated set of international and cross-sector factors, threatens to further depress Vietnam’s rubber profits, still faces the risk of the South American Leaf Blight. As global movement becomes faster and more frequent, the risks increase exponentially. The hopea is a big tree with a long life.”. Moreover, in the near-term, the trade war between China and the US threatens to further depress Vietnam’s rubber profits. The French defeat at Dien Bien Phu and subsequent national partitioning did little to stabilize conditions on the rubber plantations. Rising sea levels threaten key coastal areas like the Mekong Delta, which produces the majority of Vietnam’s rice. The only sound in the dusty parking lot was of birds chirping. Japan’s arrival in Vietnam in 1940 stymied rubber production. The two Tree Crushers cleared more than 2,000 acres around Long Binh by themselves, the 93rd’s engineers reported in one operational report. It's hard to find a Vietnam war movie that DOESN'T come full of distortions based on the film makers political agendas; it's just this time "The Green Berets" comes from the pro-involvement side. They also applied the latex to capes to create crude rain jackets. Vietnam's largest city, Saigon, was the capital of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1975. The new government, however, chose to operate the industry in accordance with colonial structures that showed little concern for workers and gave preferences to the large foreign companies that remained. Rather than the wholly inadequate health services offered to people uprooted from their homelands, companies attributed the abysmal health to the "primitive lifestyle of Annam people when it comes to hygiene and their attitude to disease.". ), “The idea is to have other things in the system so the grower has an opportunity to maintain an income in the five-to-thirty year period,” Beadle said. Reforestation and sustainable forestry is supported by the regional authorities, … Unlike native Dipterocarps, acacias block indigenous trees, shrubs, and lianas (woody vines) from growing underneath them, which eliminates the habitat of native insects, vertebrates and fungi; reduce biodiversity; and lead to species extinction. Souvenirs of torture in Vietnam. Everyone appeared almost dead, and in fact in the end about all did die." Benefiting from improved methods and attention, the southern region produced more than one metric ton of rubber per hectare per year between 1957 and 1961. In 1897, a French pharmacist on a mission to Java sent Hevea seeds to the Saigon Botanical Garden, which later became the Saigon Zoo. Photo via Flickr user manhhai. When it fell to the Vietnamese People's Army and the Viet Cong at the end of the Vietnam War, its name was changed to Ho Chi Minh city in honor of the leader of Vietnam's communist movement. When the wire was tripped, the grenades were pulled out of the cans to detonate instantly. A landmark 1998 decree set a goal of restoring Vietnam’s forest cover to 1940s levels by 2010 through planting 5 million hectares (19,300 square miles) of trees — 2 million for reserves and 3 million for wood production.

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