Increase connectivity between protected areas: A key solution to conserve biodiversity in Vietnam

With a variety of plants and animals, Vietnam is one of the world’s 10 most biologically diverse countries. Although there has been a significant increase in coverage and in the number of protected areas, biodiversity has continued to decline in Viet Nam.

The key issue is the lack of connectivity between protected areas. Most protected areas in Vietnam tend to be small and isolated from other areas of natural habitat. Meanwhile, small habitats often lose species faster than the large habitats because some species, especially large animals such as bears and cats, require a large natural habitat to find mates and feed. To deal with this, corridors can be developed between protected areas to allow species to move from one protected habitat to another. Also, corridors can help species to adapt to unpredicted climate change in the future because species can move along climatic gradients through corridors.

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Map of Viet Nam’s Protected Areas

                                              Source: ICEM

The connectivity of protected areas to establish networks is very important for the survival of many species; however, such linkages remain rare in Vietnam. Vietnam has developed green corridors to connect some protected areas only in the central region. Some of endangered species such as Indochinese tigers, bears, White-cheeked Crested Gibbons, and Saola(Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) which is one of the most recently discovered large mammals and also one of the rarest in the world are found in the green corridors between the two national parks in the central of Vietnam.

 sao laSaola – A critically endangered species hoIndochinese tiger – Fewer than 50 left in Vietnam

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a significant constraint to establish corridors in order to conserve biodiversity in Vietnam is the lack of a centralized protected area management authority. Vietnam has not had a national protected area network a national protected areas network, but 163 separately managed protected areas, six of which are under the provincial authorities, who prioritize economic growth rather than biodiversity conservation. In some cases, the effort of an individual protected area cannot ensure the survival of endangered species. For example, in Cat Tien National Park, the last Javan Rhino, which requires large habitat is died in April 2010 due to their habitat loss and illegal trading.

How to improve the protected area management in Vietnam to conserve the biodiversity of a country with 10% of the world’s vertebrate fauna on 1% of its land area? I highly recommend the development of a new protected areas network with high connectivity within and between protected areas. Developing corridors cross the whole country could be a key solution. To implement this solution, a centralized protected area management authority needs to be established because redesigning of national protected areas network requires the change in land use planning nationally that a protected area cannot do.

Thu Nguyen (U5074087)

About Biodiversity Conservation Blog

I am an Associate Professor at The Australian National University and convene a (very awesome) course called Biodiversity Conservation. Myself and students in the course contribute to this blog.
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10 Responses to Increase connectivity between protected areas: A key solution to conserve biodiversity in Vietnam

  1. Huong says:

    True but I think it is difficult to implement in practice bcoz to increase the connectivity between protected areas, it is required the large amount of economic capital in which Vietnam, a developing country with limited budget is unlikely to mobilise the fund. Moreover, resettlement of local communties living around protected areas and change of land use are not easy to address in short term period.

  2. Hoa Nguyen says:

    That’s a great idea Thu, we need to develop corridors to conserve these species.

  3. It is great article about improving connectivity between protected areas in Vietnam and It is very useful for biodiversity conservation!

  4. it’s sound useful material for my paper. thanks author

  5. Truc Linh says:

    Yes, that’s right! Last year I saw the elephant population in York Don National Park was so stressed because of their small habitat and disturbance of tourists

    • Thu Nguyen says:

      Yes, Number of wild Elephant population in Vietnam now is just around 70 they are living in patches of forest. Elephant riding is the culture of minority ethnic groups in high land centre of Vietnam. THat’s right, we are disturbing them. I am afraid of that Elephant are quietly disappearing

  6. Thu Nguyen says:

    Hi Nhuan, i see that many large animals in Vietnam now are trying to escape from human rather than enjoy their life at their home. Their habitats are so small and isolated. How stressful they are when high way across national parks, the natural reserves are isolated. I saw the survey using camera trapping last week at Cat Tien national park and be very proud of our biodiversity but worries also. Hope that what you and TRAFFIC Vietnam doing can make the situation better.
    Here is the link about amazing animals in Cat tien:
    How to protect these animals?

  7. Thu Nguyen says:

    Hi Huong! establishing the corridors doesn’t mean that we will move out the local people. However, it needs to work with private owner because we need to work on their land. Yes it require a big project and cost money, but Vietnamese government needs to trade off between development and conservation. We also can call fund from international Organisations. WWF is fundding a project to develop corridors between Bach Ma national park and Vu Quang national park in central of Vietnam, for example. It is not easy with the new protected area network but i think we can do. If we do not redesign the new protected area network, we will fail to conserve the endangered species like the case in Cat Tien national Park as i mentioned above. Then what is the future of biodiversity in Vietnam?

  8. Authors such as Turner (2005) in a review of landscape ecology and a controversial paper in Journal of Applied Ecology argue that the amount and quality of habitat are more important than connectivity for most species, so these should be the priority for conservation.

    • Thu Nguyen says:

      Thank Phil, i will look at Tuner (2005) it must be interesting. After i attend the course and finish the major assignment i think about such strategies can apply in my country. However i have to admit that, it seem to be hard to expand the national park because Vietnam is high density of population. The off reserve can be apply some where but will not alway appropriate as Vietnam does not enough fund to implement environmental scheme, the law is weak enforced to implement biodiversity offset……… Other scheme like REDD, CDM may be better. That’s why i thinking about corridors.

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