Even the oldest men in Phu Tho Village in the central province of Quang Binh do not know when the loc vung (Barringtonia acutangula) forest first appeared. The trees, which surround their village, have been protecting the residents from scorching sun, rains, storms and even enemy bullets.
The people in the village, located in An Thuy Commune in Le Thuy District, call the loc vung forest their “invaluable treasure”. In summer, hundreds of loc vung trees give large shade to everyone, old and young alike.
No one knows exactly how old the forest is. Many important documents of the village have been lost in natural calamities and wars. Local people say the village is 400 years old, and the trees are probably about the same age.
According to Chau Van Manh, a local man born in 1931, his ancestors began building the village about 400 years ago in the deserted swampy area. They decided to grow loc vung because it was one of the few plants that could exist in swampy conditions.
Manh said the loc vung forest looks like it is leaning against a dragon, with the dragon's head at the Thui Market's turning point and the dragon's tail at the end of the Doc Village.
The forest, located on the back of the dragon, together with the sacred communal house and Confucius Temple, have been protecting the village for hundreds of years.
According to Manh, the loc vung forest covered a larger area in the past. As it was a favorite ornamental tree, people unfortunately uprooted many trees and brought them to their homes. The forest, which now covers two hectares, has 300 big trees with a trunk diameter of 0.6-1.2 meters.
Villagers vow to protect forest
Phu Tho's people can recall the day four years ago when they were awakened at midnight by the sounds of engine saws.
When they arrived in the forest, they saw several big old loc vung trees being loaded onto trucks by illegal loggers. The trucks then left the village a few minutes later.
The villagers realized they needed to take action to protect their invaluable treasure. Several groups of patrols were formed who were put in charge of preventing anyone from chopping down the loc vung trees.
Le Van Tien, head of Phu Tho Hamlet, said Phu Tho's people vowed to protect the special loc vung trees, which are not located in any other locality.
The trees in the hamlet are all special: one tree looks like a sleeping buffalo, the other a dragon, while others have their roots tied round them, which allows them to withstand storms.
“We will not sell loc vung trees for anything, money, gold or asphalted roads,” Tien said. “Every villager works as a forest ranger to protect the village's loc vung trees.”
quang binh, phu tho, central province, scorching sun, le thuy, no one, natural calamities, chau van, the few, back of, together with, communal house, big trees, in charge, forest ranger
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