Hue City, Vietnam – As part of Vietnam’s nation-wide effort to conserve remaining natural forests for future generations, representatives of Thua Thien Hue People’s Committee, WWF Indochina, and the Netherlands Development Organization, SNV, today launched in a four-year project to protect and maintain the high global conservation value of central Vietnam, in an area referred to as the ‘Green Corridor’.
The Green Corridor is situated between Phong Dien Nature Reserve and Bach Ma National Park in Thua Thien Hue province in Vietnam. It covers an area of 134,000 ha, comprising the three districts of A Luoi, Nam Dong, and Huong Thuy. The area’s forests are of the highest global conservation importance and are critical to the integrity of the wider landscape and the Annamites ecoregion.
Vietnam’s rich evergreen forests are a valuable asset, providing timber and other products for local communities, protecting watersheds, and ensuring farmers have supplies of water for farming. They are also resource for ecotourism and other income-generating activities. The forests support unique and rare species, many of which are threatened and found nowhere else in the world. However, much of this forest is lost or degraded by illegal logging, encroachment and fire; in addition the wildlife is threatened by illegal hunting and an unsustainable wildlife trade.
The global conservation significance of the Green Corridor has been demonstrated through a systematic assessment of conservation priorities in Indochina. The assessment demonstrated that the area is vital for the long-term conservation of many unique species including saola, Edwards pheasant, Annamites striped rabbit, and Annam partridge. The area is also of high importance for innumerable other species including the Asian elephant and tiger.
However, the area’s biodiversity is under a number of major threats: unsustainable extraction of plants and animals for local consumption and the wildlife trade, forest fires, and loss of forest habitat from forest clearance and encroachment by agriculture.
The new project, called “Green Corridor — meeting global conservation targets in a productive landscape”, aims to protect and maintain the conservation value of the landscape in the Green Corridor, and to establish a model for protection, management, and maintenance of high biodiversity of global importance in forested areas managed for multiple uses, including sustainable forest management.
The project aims to reduce the levels of exploitation and halt the loss of critical species and forest habitat through effective control mechanisms and strengthened capacity for conservation management. It will establish and maintain the productive landscape of the Green Corridor through locally initiated protection, management and restoration initiatives. Another outcome of the project is that the biodiversity value of the Green Corridor will be secured through development of informed policies and responsible planning measures which can be replicated at other sites.
The project is funded by the Global Environmental Facilities (GEF) through the World Bank, with co-financing from the Vietnamese Government, WWF Indochina, and the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV). Altogether, funds total over US$2 million.
The Green Corridor project will work in a partnership with relevant programmes of the Vietnamese government such as the Five Million Hectare Reforestation Programme, the Central Annamites Conservation Action Plan, and other projects and programmes of international organizations to effectively conserve the Green Corridor area. The project will use existing institutions and mechanisms in the project area for implementation to ensure that institutional sustainability will be secured. The project will also work with forest managers, local communities and provincial government, including sectoral development planners.
Mr Nguyen Ngoc Thien, vice-chairman of the Thua Thien Hue provincial People’s Committee, Mr Eric Coull, representative of WWF Indochina, and Mr Harm Duiker, representative of the SNV, signed the final project agreement today at the Huong Giang Hotel in Hue.
In his opening speech at the ceremony, Mr Thien emphasised the importance of biodiversity of the Green Corridor area and expressed his high appreciation of the project, first jointly initiated by WWF Indochina and the Thua Thien Hue Forest Protection Department. Mr Thien also expressed the strong commitment of the Provincial People’s Committee towards working closely with and supporting the project management board to achieve the project goal and objectives.
Biodiversity conservation across larger scales such as ecoregions and landscapes is a new approach in Vietnam that was introduced by WWF in the late 1990s. The Annamites ecoregion is one of WWF’s Global 200 ecoregions — a science-based global ranking of the world’s most biologically outstanding habitats and the regions on which WWF concentrates its effort.
WWF is now testing and applying a number of approaches and tools for implementing landscape-based conservation in Quang Nam province, in forest areas contiguous with the Green Corridor. The lessons learned from this project and other similar projects in Vietnam and the region have been used in the design of the Green Corridor project.
“Without doubt, the project will be a bold and significant step in providing additional resources to demonstrate that by improving the management of productive landscape, global targets can be met while sustaining benefits to local communities,” said Eric Coull from WWF Indochina. “WWF is committed to be a learning organization by sharing knowledge and responsibility to preserve, protect and indeed increase Vietnam’s forest cover for the best overall benefit.”
By Mr Cao Chi Hung
Programme Officer, WWF Indochina