Tag: Biodiversity conservation

Fuelled by Forests

The past 20 years in Vietnam have been remarkable. The economy has expanded by an average of 7 percent annually since the mid-1990s and according to the Vietnam Development Report 2011, “poverty has fallen drastically from 60 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 2008”. In 2009, Vietnam was reclassified as a “lower-middle-income country”. But much of the economic expansion and inertia has been fueled by the use of domestic natural resources.

With its diverse topography and climates, Vietnam is home to 10 percent of the world’s vertebrate species and an incredible amount of biodiversity for a country that takes up only about one percent of the globe’s land mass. But forest cover nationally has dropped from 43 percent in 1943 to about 27 percent in 1990. As of 2009, the number rebounded to 40 percent, which is largely a result of investments in plantations. However, as IUCN’s Brunner puts it, “the area of quality forest is probably only five percent of total forest cover”.

Photo: PanNature.

Along with quality forests, Vietnam’s tiger population has also been wiped out and few believe the remaining roaming elephants will last much longer. Endemic species including the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, the saola and the Siamese crocodile are all dangling precariously on the brink of extinction. There have been signs of success, albeit limited to projects where there’s been long term foreign presence focusing on a restricted range species, like primates, or with captive breeding programmes such as at the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Centre.

“Vietnam has five of the 25 most endangered higher primates in the world. Just by knowing that you and your country have five particularly special primates is a great honour,” says Potess. “The Vietnamese population has to jump on the wagon and say ‘Yes! We are losing our national heritage.”

As of 2010, Vietnam was ranked 85 among 163 countries with respect to its environmental performance index, which measures countries’ “performance level relative to their established environmental policies targets”.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the country’s huge depletion of its fauna and flora. Vast amounts of money are put into conservation efforts in Vietnam and about 15 percent of the country is classified as protected. According to Brunner, on a hectare basis, spending on Vietnam’s protected areas is among the highest in the world. But throwing money at a problem doesn’t appear to solve everything. Enormous projects funded by international donors are often inflexible. Policies often look good on paper, but enforcement at the ground level and park management is often ineffective. Throw into the mix that Asia’s economic rise has lead to the expansion of wildlife trafficking that feeds traditional medicine and culinary markets domestically and abroad, and it becomes clear that more is needed than good top-down intentions.

The nascent, but growing, domestic NGO sector will be a pivotal factor in Vietnam’s green future. While international NGOs are often instrumental in securing large funds for domestic projects, it’s the local organisations that are able to nurture vital grassroots movements and start dialogue at the official and communal level that are instrumental to any type of sustainable change.

“More organisations are emerging because now the registration process is quite easy and open,” says People and Nature Reconciliation’s executive director Trinh Le Nguyen. “Now it’s a matter of how to survive and how to actually do work and carry on [with] the mission of the organisation.”

At People and Nature Reconciliation, Nguyen and the 25 full-time staff members are instituting a multi-pronged, holistic strategy to protect the country’s biodiversity. Tasks include a news website, a nationally published policy review, managing field projects and hosting roundtable discussions with policymakers and Vietnamese think tanks.

“When we started, we needed a lot of capacity building and support from international groups,” says Nguyen. “In the future, we hope more domestic philanthropy organisations will look at the environment and conservation issues.”

While Nguyen admits the task at hand is enormous, he has hopes that greener days await in the future. Attendance from policymakers at their forums and roundtable discussions is on the rise. As the country’s middle class expands, Nguyen says young people are increasingly looking at ways to get involved and are concerned with the country’s environmental health.

Source: Word Hanoi

PanNature’s mammal field guide now available in VDIC Bookstore

The book “A Field Guide to the Large Mammals of Vietnam” is a joint effort between PanNature and Dr. John Parr. The contents of this field guide have been based upon available literature and records from mammalian research on mammals in Vietnam and neighboring countries. The species plates in this publication are illustrated by two outstanding wildlife artists in Southeast Asia, Kamol Komolphalin and Mongkol Wongkalasin. Click here for more information about the field guide.

I strongly believe this Field Guide will be an excellent resource for all readers, not only for those working in nature conservation but for scientists, students and nature enthusiastists. It is my great pleasure to introduce this Field Guide to all of you and to offer my thanks and congratulations to all those involved in its preparation.” — Professor Vo Quy, Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES), Hanoi National University.

This field guide in English and Vietnamese languages is now available for sale in the bookstore of the Vietnam Development Information Center (VDIC). For more information, please visit VDIC Bookstore >>

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Photos of Project Activities in Hang Kia – Pa Co Nature Reserve

Photos of activities within the project “Piloting Integrated Market Access in Support of Nature Conservation: Improving Livelihoods of Local Communities in the Buffer Zone for Reducing Human Impacts on Natural Resources in Hang Kia – Pa Co Nature Reserve, Hoa Binh Province” funded by the blue moon fund.

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The vital safeguarding of Vietnam’s tigers

How many tigers does Vietnam have? It’s a matter that is troubling the experts and there is no definitive answer says Dr Scott Roberton from the Wildlife Conservation Society on November 24.

Dr. Roberton confirmed that according to a recent survey by Education for Nature – Vietnam and the Environmental Police department, Vietnam has 97 tigers in captivity, but numbers of tigers in the wild, are thought to be anywhere between 20 and 100.

He said that while it is relatively easy to breed tigers in captivity, if not regulated, it can harm wild tiger populations.

“Is breeding tigers always good for wild tiger conservation? The answer is ‘no’. Increasing the number of tigers in captivity is only good if it is supporting the conservation of wild tigers.”

He stressed:  “It is more difficult to release captive tigers to the wild than it is to simply protect existing wild tiger populations and let them naturally increase.”

Trinh Le Nguyen, director of People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), said that according to the WWF, ten years ago Vietnam had 100 wild tigers.

According to Nguyen, the current number of tigers in Vietnam may be less than 100 because “Tigers require a large area of forest to live andcan travel up to 100km a day, but forests in Vietnam are being narrowed”.

Nguyen warned that wildlife smuggling cases discovered in Vietnam account for only 20 percent of total cases. The local press also report only 10 percent of cases calculated by the Vietnam Forest Protection Agency.

An investigation in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong showed illegal hunting of wild animals remains popular. At least 175 professional hunters are working in the two districts of Cat Tien and Da The in the forests of Lam Dong.

According to the study, hunters mainly work in protected areas like the Bi Doup National Park, Nui Ba Mountain and the Cat Tien National Park. Hunters of Don Duong, Dam Rong and Lam Ha work in Dak Lak and Dak Nong provinces. They also go to Ninh Thuan and Binh Phuoc to hunt wild animals.

Hunters say they use many tools in hunting, including self-made shot guns, an AR115, an M16 or even a bow.

A hunter in Don Duong district said his group normally has between four and six hunters. After up to five days laying traps, they check the traps and often collect up to 40 kilos of wild animals in a pine forest in Ninh Thuan province.

Another hunter in Dam Rong district said his group works at night to avoid forest rangers.

Source: Trung Thanh, VietnamNet

Launching of the Publication “Field Guide to the Large Mammals of Vietnam”

People and Nature Reconciliation has launched the publication “Field Guide to the Large Mammals of Vietnam”. This publication is printed in both Vietnamese and English languages with financial support from the World Bank/Netherlands Partnership Program and the Sida Environment Fund (SEF).

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Sarus Crane – Symbol of Peace

This is the first book to be published on the Eastern Sarus Crane Grus antigone sharpii. The book is published by PanNature and a professional photographer Minh Loc. The book presents over 300 wonderful colored photographs photographs taken by Minh Loc.

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