500-year-old brocade forest in a coastal village

QUANG BINH –  Formed more than 500 years ago, Tram Bau forest has protected Thanh Binh village from storms, and drought, and is considered a treasure by the people.

Tram Bau forest runs along the coast of Thanh Binh village, Quang Xuan commune, Quang Trach district about 4 km, 400 m wide. The tree has the scientific name Combretum quadrangulare Kurz , belongs to a tree with a height of 2-12 m, distributed mainly in the South and Central. The tree lays many branches right at the base, the trunk is crooked and winding.

Thanh Binh village rests its back on the forest of brocade brocade, facing west with lush upland fields.  Photo: Hoang Apple
Thanh Binh village rests its back on the brocade forest, facing west with lush upland fields. Photo: Hoang Apple

Most of the brocade roots in Thanh Binh village are now 20-30 cm in diameter, some are over 50 cm. Many mossy perennial stems grow rough and green. Seen from above, the brooch forms a green patch, covering the white sand hill below. Many species of birds come here to live, make nests, and breed in large flocks.

In the summer, the brood will flower, and at the end of the year it will bear fruit. The fruit grows at the top of the tree, as small as the tip of a finger, and has a sweet and slightly acrid taste. In early spring, the brood gourd plant grows. The special thing is that the tree can only grow on its own, people have not been able to sow seeds or dig trees for propagation.

According to the elderly, the brocade forest existed before the establishment of Thanh Binh village. “When the pioneers came to establish a village, this forest existed. Seeing that the forest was green, knowing that the land was rich, and the groundwater was abundant, they set up stakes to build a house and broke the land for farming.” Mr. Duong Minh Huy, 63 years old, used to protect the forest for 39 years, introduced.

Since then, the forest has been a green wall to protect the villagers through the stormy seasons, prevent sand from flying, and keep fresh water. 500 wells around Thanh Binh village have never run out of water. The water source is also not contaminated with alum, sour and salty like in neighboring villages.

Aware that the survival of the village depends on the forest of Tram Bau, the ancestors have set many regulations to keep the forest. The village head chooses young men to join the forest guard team. Those who cut trees or destroy forests are accused of expropriating rice in the communal house.

In 1959, the village established a cooperative, and the forest guard team was officially born. Villagers stipulate fines for those who go to the forest to cut trees. People are only allowed to collect fallen leaves for fuel.

Mr. Duong Minh Huy, the leader of the forest protection group, stands beside a tree with a diameter of over 50 cm.  Photo: Hoang Apple
Mr. Duong Minh Huy, the head of the forest protection group of Tram Bau, next to a tree with a diameter of over 50 cm. Photo: Hoang Apple

In the early 1980s, people in neighboring communes, due to lack of fuel, went to the forest to cut down trees for firewood. Each group of 20-40 people pulled in to cut trees. The 11-person security team, led by Mr. Huy, was provided with two AK guns and lived in the forest to prevent tree felling.

“They went a lot, so we had to fire AK guns many times to warn us. Many times there were clashes, fortunately no one was injured,” Mr. Huy recalled. This lasted for three years and then gradually decreased, AK guns were withdrawn. In 2011, the Thanh Binh forest protection group was awarded a certificate of merit by the Chairman of Quang Binh province for its achievements in forest preservation.

To maintain the treasure forest, the villagers of Thanh Binh contribute rice to feed the security team, there are currently 5 people left. Two crops a year, each guard receives 800 kg of rice, converted into 4 million VND. “The money is just a source of encouragement. For us, the forest is like a lifeline, a soulmate that can’t be left,” said Mr. Duong Van Dung, 60, a member of the forest protection team.

In recent years, Thanh Binh village stipulates that the deceased must not be buried under the brocade forest, but must go to the cemetery, in order to maintain the forest area. In 2022, Quang Binh province will adjust the direction of the coastal route to the coast to avoid the forest of brocade, after more than a year of consulting the people.

The ancient brocade forest with the age of more than 500 years.  Photo: Hoang Apple
The ancient brocade forest with an age of more than 500 years. Photo: Hoang Apple

Mr. Duong Minh Phuong, Chairman of Quang Xuan commune, assessed that Thanh Binh people have agreed to keep the forest of Tram gourd for many years, bringing many benefits in terms of protection, ecology, water conservation, etc. Very few primeval green forests have been preserved in the coastal area of ​​Quang Binh since ancient times.

 ( According to vnexpress )