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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 8. 19th April 1973

350,000 Acres of Forest stripped

350,000 Acres of Forest stripped

It has been estimated that by last year the number of bomb craters in Indochina exceeded 26 million. In one relatively small area alone — south eastern Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail — from 1968-71, 973,000 tons of bombs were dropped, a large number of them 500 or 750 pounders released from B-52's or F-4's. A 500 pound bomb will make a crater 30ft long, 6ft deep and will impact the soil as hard as concrete. Thus within an area about the size of the state of Maryland, American bombs have blasted nearly 4 million craters, turning the area into a moonscape.

Furthermore, the land in 1972 was being cleared of vegetation round-the-clock by huge bulldozers equipped with large Rome ploughs. These bulldozers knocked over trees, pushed out the scrub and scraped the topsoil down to the substratum. Large heavily forested areas — more than 350,000 acres in all — have been stripped.

One of the most insidious and pernicious weapons, the defoliant, has been used extensively. The effect of these herbicides has been to kill the tropical vegetation. The larger trees of both the upper and secondary layers of the jungle are often poisoned with one spraying. Even the third canopy and the topsoil have been affected in areas of heavy spraying.

From late 1961 to 1970 some 7,500 square miles of forested land in South Vietnam alone was sprayed once or more with herbicides. Areas in Laos and Cambodia have also been sprayed but the Defence Department will not release details.

The total effect of military action on the soils will not be determined for many years. But, judging by what is known about the kinds of soils and vegetation structure involved and discerning the extent of their destruction, soil geologists such as Dr Clyde Wahrhaftig of the University of California at Berkeley expect to see serious long term consequences that may be irreversible

Photo of a Navy plane

U. S. plane in action over Victnam. 3 months after the signing of the Peace Agreement the Americans continue to bomb Cambodia and Laos.

Photo of a woman and child wounded by napalm bombing

Woman and Child suffering from the effects of napalm bombing. U. S. Imperialism pays no respect to the people of the countries it invades.