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 2,700 km² of parkland, consisting of a core zone of 857 km² and a buffer zone of 1,889 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% of the park area. The forest contains giant, buttressed trees up to 50 m in 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, 72 fishes 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 Ha Tinh langur (Trachypithecus hatinhensis) and red-shanked Douc langur (Pygathrix nemaeus).
One of the main threats to the biodiversity of the national 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 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 national park. In the beginning, the protected area comprised approximately 5 km². The programme will be extended to further ranger stations. This project meanwhile has been completed
WAZA Conservation Project 07010 is implemented by Cologne Zoo, with support from "GEO schützt den Regenwald e.V".
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