The International Day for Biological Diversity (22nd May 2021) with the theme “We are part of the solution” has called on people to live in harmony with nature and apply nature-based solutions. This is also an opportunity for Việt Nam to look back at the achievements and challenges in biodiversity conservation of the country over the past 10 years (2010 - 2020) to create a premise, towards the completion of the sustainable development goals.
VIỆT NAM’S BIODIVERSITY HAS HIGH VALUE IN THE WORLD
Việt Nam is one of the countries with high biodiversity in the world, especially in species diversity. According to the 6th National Report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (2019), Việt Nam has 51,400 species of organisms that have been identified, including: 7,500 species of micro-organisms; 20,000 plant species on land and in water; 10,900 species of terrestrial animals; 2,000 species of invertebrates and fish in freshwater and over 11,000 species of marine life. Every year, many new species continue to be discovered, extending the list of existing species in Việt Nam.
Among the recorded species, many have high conservation value, affirming the global importance of Việt Nam’s biodiversity such as pseudoryx nghetinhensis, tragulus versicolor, muntiacus vuquangensis, muntiacus truongsonensis, nesolagus timminsi, elephas maximus, bos javanicus, bos sauveli, panthera tigris corbetti, panthera pardus, cervus nippon, primates, testudines living in the sea, on land and in freshwater… The fauna of Việt Nam is quite rich in species composition and has a high level of endemism compared to other countries in Indochina. Specifically, Việt Nam has 15/21 monkey species in the region, including 7 endemic species and subspecies; 33/49 endemic bird species, of which 10 are endemic to Việt Nam.
Results of basic surveys of different territories in Việt Nam in recent years show that a number of new species have been discovered and described, including many new genera and species of scientific value. Statistics show that the number of new species found in Việt Nam accounts for more than half of the new species in the Mekong Subregion (including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Việt Nam) (WWF, 2015). Of the total 139 species of animals and plants found, there are 90 species of plants, 23 species of reptiles, 16 species of amphibians, 9 species of fish and 1 species of mammal. Scientists of Việt Nam have announced 1,023 new species for both plants and animals for science (Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and Vietnam National University). From 2014 to 2018, there were 344 new species for science including 208 animal species, 136 plant species, which were described and published in prestigious international scientific journals and the Journal of Biology of Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (6th National Report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, 2019).
Pygathrix cinerea discovered in Kon Plông District (Kon Tum)
CONSERVE AND RESTORE THE VALUE OF PRECIOUS BIODIVERSITY
Over the past decade, Việt Nam has developed and actively implemented the National Strategy on Biodiversity to conserve and restore biodiversity value. Over the past time, the legal system on biodiversity conservation and protection of wild species has continued to change and adjust. Along with the improvement of legal provisions on forest protection and development (Law on Forest Protection and Development 2004, Law on Forestry 2017), legal provisions on fisheries (Law on Fisheries 2004 and amended 2017), legal provisions on investment and business (Law on Investment 2014), the Law on Biodiversity 2008 which took effect on 1st July 2009 is the most comprehensive legal document regulating the conservation and sustainable development of biological species, endangered, precious and rare species prioritized for protection, wild species, biodiversity conservation facilities. Accordingly, policies, decrees and circulars guiding the implementation of the Law on Biodiversity were also issued, creating a complete legal framework for wildlife management.
In particular, the amended Criminal Code 2017 increased the maximum penalty up to 1 billion VND and 15 years in prison for crimes related to wildlife. This shows the Government’s drastic handling of violations and protection of wildlife. On the other hand, the Prime Minister’s directives such as Directive No. 03/CT-TTg on strengthening direction and implementation of measures to control and conserve endangered, precious and rare wild animals; Directive No. 28/CT-TTg dated 17th September 2016 on urgent solutions for preventing and fighting the violation of wild animals against the Law and recently the Prime Minister’s Directive No. 29/CT-TTg dated 23rd July 2020 on a number of urgent solutions for wildlife management issued in the context of the spreading Covid pandemic.
Besides, species conservation activities have also been strongly implemented and achieved remarkable results. Investigation, inventory, monitoring and evaluation of endangered, precious and rare species prioritized for protection are carried out in order to develop a database of wild species. In the period 2010 - 2020, basic survey projects on forest and marine resources (including coral reef ecosystems, coastal ecosystems) have been implemented. The volumes of Fauna and Flora of Việt Nam are continuously updated with 31 volumes of fauna and 21 volumes of flora that have been published since 2.000 up to now. The list of endangered precious and rare species prioritized for protection is updated and promulgated in Decree No. 64/2019/NĐ-CP. The Vietnam Red Data Book has been updated (Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, 2015). Many wildlife monitoring programs have also been implemented, typically: The project to investigate the status of panthera tigris corbetti, ursus malayanus in Pù Mát National Park (NP) - Nghệ An; The program to monitor primates in Phong Nha NP - Quảng Bình; The project to monitor population of trachypithecus franscoisi poliochephalus in Cát Bà NP - Hải Phòng; The project to monitor population of rhinopithecus avunculus in Nà Hang, Chạm Chu Nature Reserves - Tuyên Quang, Khau Ca Nature Reserve - Hà Giang; A number of programs to monitor spoonbills and red-crowned cranes implemented by Birdlife International; The project to monitor peacock species in Đắc Lắc Province; The project to monitor pangolins and mammals in a number of national parks and conservation areas; The project to monitor Hoàn Kiếm turtles; The program to tag and monitor sea turtles during the breeding season and the program to relocate and hatch turtle eggs in Côn Đảo NP; The program to monitor daytime migratory raptors in Asian countries and territories...
Many in-situ species conservation activities have been developed and approved by the Government such as the Master Plan for urgent conservation of elephants in Việt Nam for the period 2013 - 2020; The National Program on tiger protection in the period 2014 - 2022; Urgent Conservation Action Plan for primates in Việt Nam to 2025, vision to 2030; Program on Conserving endangered turtle species of Việt Nam to 2025, vision to 2030. On that basis, many local authorities have actively developed and approved species conservation programs/plans in their provinces under the support from funding sources or projects such as Thừa Thiên - Huế, Quảng Trị, Kon Tum, Quảng Nam, Thanh Hóa.... Thanks to in-situ conservation activities, the number of individuals of some primates has increased. According to FFI (2016), Nguyễn Đình Hải, Nguyễn Xuân Đặng et al (2016), there are more than 500 individuals of pygathrix nemaeus cinerea in Kon Plông (Kon Tum) and over 200 individuals of trachypithecus barbei at Xuân Liên Nature Reserve, Thanh Hóa discovered. When it was first established, Vân Long Wetland Nature Reserve (Ninh Bình Province) in 2001, scientists’ statistic that there were only 43 individuals of trachypithecus delacouri. Thanks to good protection, the trachypithecus delacouri population is increasing in number, in 2010, there were 110 individuals and by 2016 it had increased to about 150 individuals. Currently, there are 7 herds of trachypithecus delacouri with about 40 individuals newly discovered in the limestone mountains of Hà Nam Province. Obviously, the incr,ease in primate herds is a positive sign because there has been an expansion of the area of suitable habitats for each of these groups of primates.
In addition to in-situ conservation efforts, displacement conservation activities have also been implemented with certain achievements. Currently, there are 7 biodiversity conservation facilities licensed to operate. Additionally, thanks to the incentive policy for breeding endangered species, some species still exist and develop, typically cervus nippon which has long been extinct in the wild in Việt Nam for a long time has been studied and raised. Some successful research results in the breeding of rare and precious wildlife species in localities are: Crocodylus siamensis is at very high risk of extinction in the wild now restored by the reintroduction program in Cát Tiên NP; Python molurus and python recticulatus are popularly bred in the Southern provinces, export products are skin, meat, live pythons; Naja have been successfully raised and reproduced in many localities such as Vĩnh Tường - Vĩnh Phúc.
The successful artificial reproduction and commercial farming of endangered wild fauna and flora species with high economic value have created opportunities for socio-economic development in localities, contributed to the conservation of genetic resources and reduced pressure on wildwlife exploitation in the wild.
HUMANS ARE THE DECISIVE FACTOR OF BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION SOLUTIONS
With these achievements, it can be affirmed that wildlife conservation as well as biodiversity conservation has really made positive changes, gradually turning this work into a task of the whole society with the participation of the whole society. This is very meaningful because the theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity 2021 is “We are part of the solution”, as an affirmation that humans are also a factor of the solution to conserve biodiversity, even the key factor, determining the success of this work.
However, besides the achievements, Việt Nam still has many challenges. According to the report evaluating the results of the National Strategy on Biodiversity to 2020, vision to 2030, a number of issues such as the import of invasive alien species, environmental pollution, global climate change, the increasingly complex wildlife crime situation as well as the fragmentation and narrowing of habitats and over- and illegal exploitation of forest and marine resources in many areas are the main reasons why biodiversity is threatened. In addition, the management system and policies, laws also have overlaps and inadequacies that need to be improved.
To be able to effectively conserve wild species, Việt Nam has been and continues to be consistent with the goals of in-situ conservation, combined with conservation solutions to relocate endangered species; strengthens Law enforcement to improve the effectiveness of conservation policies; raises awareness about wildlife conservation and changes habits for sustainable consumption, avoids damage to species and their habitats; continues to amend regulations on species conservation to create a comprehensive and consistent legal corridor; mobilizes the participation of organizations and individuals in the conservation of species in particular and biodiversity in general.
(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition II - 2021)