Measures enhanced to protect biodiversity resources

Sunday, 2021-06-06 16:12:01
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A corner of Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve in Ninh Binh Province. (Photo: Xuan Lam)
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NDO – Vietnam is known as one of the countries with high biodiversity in the world. The rich and diverse natural ecosystems are an important source of capital for the sustainable development of many economic sectors in the country.

However, the risk of biodiversity degradation is increasing due to deforestation, illegal exploitation and trade of wild animals, and environmental pollution.

Conservation associated with people's livelihood

The Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve covers a total area of 2,736 hectares in Gia Vien District, in the northern province of Ninh Binh. This is considered one of the largest wetlands in the Northern Delta and Vietnam’s ninth Ramsar site. Its biodiversity and ecosystem resources are mainly wetlands and forests on limestone mountains, attractive landscapes with limestone ranges and many unique and mysterious caves. Regarding biodiversity, the conservation area hosts 722 species of flora, belonging to 277 families of six phyla of higher plants, including some species listed in the Vietnam Red Book, such as bat giac lien (podophyllum tonkinense gagnep) and bo an Bac Bo (breynia tonkinensis), 63 species belonging to 27 families of mammals, 148 species of bird, 45 species of reptile and 43 species of fish. The area is surrounded by a system of limestone and vegetation representing the karst ecosystem which is the main habitat of the Delacour's langur, a primate threatened with extinction globally that now exists in Vietnam. The reserve gathered around 40 individuals of Delacour's langurs when it was first established; however, it recorded over 180 individuals. This is the highest number of Delacour's langurs in Vietnam.

Director of the Hoa Lu - Van Long Special-use Primary Forest Mai Van Quyen said that with the orientation towards community-based conservation of sustainable biodiversity, the local authorities and the forest’s management board have not relocated locals outside the protected area. The people have been identified as central in the implementation of two main goals of protecting wetland ecosystems and the ecosystem on limestone mountains where Delacour's langurs are living. To achieve the above goal, the management board of the Hoa Lu - VAn Long Special-use Primary Forest has coordinated with local authorities of communes Gia Hung, Gia Hoa, Gia Van, Gia Lap, Gia Tan, Gia Thanh and Lien Son to enhance the propaganda to raise public awareness of the conservation in combination with the creation of livelihoods for the community. Various measures have been conducted, such as prioritising to pay affected households living in the contiguous areas of the protected area for protecting forests; supporting them to build models on wise use of wetlands; and building a model of sustainable farming on sloping land and renovating mixed gardens, through state capital investment in the programme to protect and develop sustainable forests. As a result, the entire area of forests, forestry land and wetlands have been managed and used for the right purposes. On the other hand, the conservation and use of wetlands always adheres to the principle of enhancing the role and participation of the local community in ensuring the integrity of biodiversity in the wetlands as well as sharing benefits and obligations of stakeholders in the use of wetland ecosystems as tourist sites and resort services.

An overall solution

Vietnam has been known as one of the countries with high biodiversity in the world with over 50,000 species of animals and plants recorded. The rich and diverse natural ecosystems are an important source of natural capital for the sustainable development of many economic sectors, especially agriculture, forestry, fishery, tourism, and pharmaceuticals.

To date, the country has 173 nature reserves with a total area of more than 2.5 million hectares, including 33 national parks, 66 nature reserves, 18 species and habitat conservation areas, and 56 landscape protection zones. They are the important areas to preserve biodiversity values. In addition to developing the network of nature reserves, Vietnam has also focused on forming biodiversity corridors to increase conservation efficiency such as the establishment of three new biodiversity corridors. Along with developing a network of nature reserves, Vietnam also focuses on establishing biodiversity corridors to increase conservation efficiency, such as completing the establishment of three new biodiversity corridors. On the other hand, through international forums, Vietnam has received great support and cooperation in biodiversity conservation and its biodiversity values have been highly appreciated. As proof of that, many territories of Vietnam have been awarded international titles, including: nine world biosphere reserves, two world natural heritage sites recognised by UNESCO, nine Ramsar sites, and 10 ASEAN Heritage Gardens.

However, according to Dr. Hoang Thi Thanh Nhan, Deputy Director of the Department of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam is currently facing an increasing risk of biodiversity degradation. This is the result of illegal exploitation and trade of wild animals pushing many species to the brink of extinction in the wild and putting serious pressure on other populations. Many activities such as the cutting down of forests for commercial purposes, conversion of forest land for the purpose of socio-economic development, shifting cultivation, production expansion, agricultural intensification, and conversion of coastal habitats have affected the ecosystem and conservation of habitats of wild species. Environmental pollution due to domestic and industrial waste pouring into rivers and lakes has not been strictly controlled, adversely affecting the biodiversity of natural ecosystems in this area.

Prof., Dr. Dang Huy Huynh, Former Director of the Institute for Ecology and Biological Resources under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology also noted that the management and conservation of biodiversity in Vietnam has witnessed many shortcomings as the mechanism has not been strong enough to coordinate investment sources nor the monitoring and management of biodiversity conservation. There have not been appropriate mechanisms and policies to promote the creative potential of the community, especially for promoting traditional indigenous knowledge in biodiversity conservation. The replication of models of wildlife conservation and restoration of ecosystems towards economic development, hunger eradication and poverty alleviation are still inadequate for people living around protected areas.

In order to uphold the biodiversity values effectively and sustainably, Dr. Hoang Thi Thanh Nhan said that Vietnam should strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of state management of biodiversity conservation through continuing to improve the laws and management institutions on biodiversity. Biodiversity conservation needs to be integrated in the master plans and strategies of economic sectors that have a great impact on biodiversity including agriculture, forestry, fishery, tourism, transport, energy, and land use. It is crucial to mobilise the participation of the community and the private sector in the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural heritages and the strict control of the impacts on biodiversity, especially from development projects, through the good implementation of strategic environmental assessment and environmental impact assessment. International cooperation should be expanded to mobilise support and transfer technology and scientific research to improve the efficiency of biodiversity conservation. On the other hand, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment should soon develop and submit a National Strategy on Biodiversity towards 2030, with a vision to 2050, to the Government.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan said that in response to the World Environment Day (June 5) in 2021 themed “Recovery of the ecosystem", the Ministry has asked the ministries, agencies, localities and people to implement measures to restore degraded ecosystems, protect natural landscapes and biodiversity; and effectively conserve species and genetic resources, especially the application of nature-based solutions to mitigate impacts from socio-economic development on ecosystems. In addition, the development and promotion of economic models using sustainably natural resources in localities have been enhanced.

In 2019, Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve was recognized as the 2,360th Ramsar site in the world and the ninth in Vietnam. These offer great potentials and advantages for the development of tourism associated with ecosystem conservation, thereby helping local people not only eradicate hunger and reduce poverty but also enrich their lives on the land rich and invaluable biodiversity.

Translated by NDO