Forest Protection Programme
To protect pristine forests in Vietnam by means of effective law enforcement
Viet Nam's Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park is located in the north of the Truong Son range in central Quang Binh province. It is one of the world's two largest limestone regions and has been recognised as a world natural heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The over 2700 km² of parkland, consisting of a a core zone of 857 km² and a buffer zone of 1889 km², include beautiful limestone formations, have the longest underground rivers, the largest caverns and passageways, among the prettiest sand banks and most astonishing rock formations in the world, and boast lush forestland covering 95 percent of the park area. The forest contains giant, buttressed trees up to 50m height, including Hopea sp., Sumbaviopsis albicans, Garcinia fragraeoides, Burretionendron hsienmu, Chukrasia tabularis, Photinia aroboreum and Dysospyros saletti. Seedlings can only grow in holes and cracks in the limestone where soil has accumulated. so that in general regeneration after disturbance is slow.
Regional biodiversity is very high. Initial surveys revealed 568 vertebrate species, comprising 113 mammals, 140 reptiles and amphibians, 302 birds, and 72 fish, and 876 species of vascular plants.
The high mammal species richness includes threatened species such as tiger (Panthera tigris), dhole (Cuon alpinus), Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), gaur (Bos gaurus), giant muntjac (Megamunticus vuquangensis), and the newly discovered saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis). The site is particularly rich in primates, such as the Ha Tinh langur (Trachypithecus hatinhensis) and the red-shanked Douc langur (Pygathrix nemaeus). One of the main threats to the biodiversity of the park is the still high negative human impact, i.e. illegal logging and hunting. Despite the considerable number of 270 Rangers and Forest Guards, the protection of the forest is not successful. The main reasons are poor living conditions in the ranger stations, low salaries, corruption, low motivation, young and inexperienced staff, lack of equipment and training, as well as fear and reluctance to arrest loggers and hunters.
A concept for a “step-by-step Forest Protection Programme” was developed. The long-term objective of this programme is to protect a large part of the PNKB National Park by regular patrols of the rangers and forest guards. This should be achieved by establishing some small protection zones first and then step-by-step extending and connecting these sites.
In July 2006, Cologne Zoo started the Forest Protection Programme in cooperation with one of the eight ranger stations in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. In the beginning, the protected area comprised approximately 5 km². The programme will be extended to further Ranger Stations.
The protection programme includes the following activities:
- A patrol team consisting of 3 rangers and forest guards patrols the area regularly, i.e. three times a week.
- The patrol team collects or burns all anorganic solid waste found during patrols.
- The patrol team destroys logger/hunter camps and records their position.
- The patrol team destroys all trap-lines, collects the strings, and records their position.
- The patrol team expels any unauthorized people from the area.
- The patrol team confiscates wood and hunted animals.
- The patrol team arrests all people doing anything illegal and reports to the police.
- The patrol team regularly takes photographs of its activities.
- The patrol team fills out a patrol sheet for the project, and reports on its activities / experiences during monthly held meetings with the project leaders.
The ranger stations receive the following support from the Cologne Zoo:
- field equipment, such as shoes, leech socks, mosquito repellant, backpacks, torches, camera, films, batteries, hammocks, and maps of the area.
- monthly top-ups (allowances).
- financial support for petrol and field consumable goods.
- improvement of living conditions in the ranger stations, i.e. in 2006 by sponsoring a new roof and a water tank.
WAZA Conservation Project 07010 is implemented by Cologne Zoo with support from "GEO schützt den Regenwald e.V".
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