Endowed with unique ecosystems of marine and terrestrial mountain lands, limestone mountains, islets and diverse fauna and flora, the Bái Tử 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, Hạ Long, Quảng 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; Nguyễn Song Hà, Food and Agriculture Organization Vietnam; Dr. Hoàng Thị Thanh Nhàn, deputy director, Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA); Harald Leummens, deputy director, United Nations Development Programme Vietnam; Lê Thanh Bình, Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment; and heads of BCA.
Bái Tử Long is the sixth AHP in Việt Nam, which include Ba Bể National Park, Chư Mom Ray National Park, Hoàng Liên Sa Pa National Park, Kon Ka Kinh National Park and U Minh Thượng 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 Hạ 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. Phạm Anh Cường, said the biodiversity of Quảng 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, Dr. Cường commended the People’s Committee of Quảng Ninh in taking action, such as the establishment, of policies and strategies for environment protection.
Bái Tử Long National Park Director Nguyễn Thanh Phương said biodiversity and sustainable tourism is the main battle cry of the Peoples’ Committee of Quảng 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 Việt Nam has proven its leadership in developing concrete platforms to implore its call for environmental protection and conservation. Bái Tử 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.
Việt Nam pioneers ABS decree among ASEAN Member States
Việt Nam became the first ASEAN Member State (AMS) to pass a law in support of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharinng of Benefít, through its Decree No.59/2017/ND-CP.
Through the joint efforts of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and other concerned parties, the Government of Việt Nam approved the law, entitled “Decree on The Management of Access genetic Resources and the Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilization”. The decree was approved last 12 May 2017 as Viet Nam’s stride in integrating the Nagoya Protocol into its law.
The decree had been outlined since 2014 to provide a transparent, legal framework for Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) of genetic resources, and went through public consultation and discussions among cabinet members, ministries, and representatives from different institutions. In addition to being Viet Nam’s step in achieving a concrete legal framework for ABS, the Decree was also the next foot forward for Viet Nam’s Law on Biodiversity, which was enacted in 2008.
Ms. Nguyễn Đặng Thu Cúc, Head of the Genetic Resources and Biosafety Management under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment stated that the decree would make the process of acquiring license to access to genetic resources and its benefit sharing easier and more functional. “We hope that this decree will be operational in the process of acquiring a license.” Mrs. Cúc said. The Decree covers several provisions, including the parties that are involved, the Competent National Authority that would grant the license, the contract between the Provider and the Accessor, and the procedures, all subject to a set of clear and specific requirements in order to gain a license for ABS. The renewal of license might be achieved only if a permission would be submitted months prior to the expiration of the license. However, any violation to the terms stated in the decree would mean revoking of license.
Moreover, Ms. Cúc thanked the experts and organizations, including the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, for helping Việt Nam achieve this step in promoting ABS in the country.