ENDOWED with unique ecosystems of marine and terrestrial mountain lands, limestone mountains, islets and diverse fauna and flora, the Bai Tu Long National Park (BTLNP) joined the network of Asean Heritage Parks (AHPs)—the best of the best protected areas that preserve a complete spectrum of representative ecosystems in the Southeast Asian region.
The ceremonial AHP launch, held recently in City Convention Center, Ha Long, Quang Ninh province, was attended by around 500 guests, was graced by the presence of Roberto V. Oliva, executive director of the Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB); Corina Warfield, deputy director of Environment and Social Development Office, United States Agency for International Development; Hiroki Miyazono, chief technical adviser, Japan International Cooperation Agency; Nguyen Song Ha, Food and Agriculture Organization Vietnam; Dr. Hoang Thi Than, deputy director, Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA); Harald Leummens, deputy director, United Nations Development Programme Vietnam; Le Than Binh, Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment; and heads of BCA.
Bai Tu Long is the sixth AHP in Vietnam, which include Ba Be National Park, Chu Mom Ray National Park, Hoang Lien Sa Pa National Park, Kon Ka Kinh National Park and U Min Thuong National Park.
Considered as a natural gem, BTLNP is a treasure trove of wonders from ridge to reef. It consists of numerous flora and fauna dotted with karst limestone mountains and islets comparative to its neighboring Ha Long Bay.
The park has a total area of 15,783 hectares, total marine area of 9,658 hectares and the remaining 6,125 hectares is composed of islands.
Tropical evergreen forests on the limestone island include broadleaf evergreen forests on soil islands, mangrove forests, seagrass cover, coral reefs and valleys between limestone mountains of which the presence of “Tung ang” ecosystem mark its unique features.
The whole park area was designated to be in-situ conservation.
The director of Biodiversity Conservation Agency, Dr. Pham Anh Cuong, said the biodiversity of Quang Ninh, in particular, is at risk because of some economic activities.
Challenges in conservation of environment exist, as pollution is still prevalent because of consumptive use of biological resources. With this, Pham commended the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh in taking action, such as the establishment, of policies and strategies for environment protection.
Bai Tu Long National Park Director Nguyen Than Phuong said biodiversity and sustainable tourism is the main battle cry of the Peoples’ Committee of Quang Ninh in making resources sustainable by infusing biodiversity conservation in plans and programs.
ACB Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva acknowledged the passionate effort of Vietnam in biodiversity conservation. He said Vietnam has proven its leadership in developing concrete platforms to implore its call for environmental protection and conservation.
He emphasized that Bai Tu Long National Park is now a part of the AHP family, where the doors for many opportunities along institutional and capacity development are ready for access.
The ACB serves as the secretariat of the AHP Programme. Protected areas benefit from being declared as an AHP through capacity-building activities for park managers and stakeholders in the form of various learning events, such as trainings and workshops.
AHPs also receive technical assistance from the AHP secretariat, through ACB in-house experts and network of partners. Being an AHP also increases its visibility as a prime ecotourism destination and model for effective protected area management through the Communication, Education and Public Awareness program of ACB.
Participation of and collaboration among AHP stakeholders in the implementation of research and development programs and projects are also maximized and strengthened when a protected area is declared as an AHP.
The AHP Programme also provides a regional platform for information sharing among AHPs by way of AHP Committee Meetings and AHP Conferences. Parks declared as AHPs are first in line for available funding through ACB programs and projects.
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