Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve New Drives for Breakthrough Tourism Development

9:05:13 AM | 6/14/2022

Hau Giang province launched the Ecotourism Project of Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve with the aim of conserving natural resources and biodiversity; building charismatic destinations to lay the groundwork for becoming a major tourist center of the province and a national tourist site of the nation by 2030, thus creating breakthroughs for the tourism industry. Mr. Lu Xuan Hoi, Director of the Management Board of Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve, said, with its determination and best efforts, the board is actively coordinating with relevant bodies, people and investors to effectively carry out this project.

Lung Ngoc Hoang is known as one of a few unspoiled lands in the Mekong Delta. Could you please tell more about outstanding value of this nature reserve?

Lung Ngoc Hoang, 40 km from Can Tho City, is a 2,805.37-ha wetland in Phung Hiep district. According to "Can Tho Geography Book" (2003), more than 120 years ago, this place was reclaimed. Before 1945, some landowners hired people to farm and fish. Lung Ngoc Hoang became a revolutionary base during the two resistance wars against France and America. After 1975, it was managed by Phuong Ninh Forest Enterprise that grew melaleuca, caught aquatic products and protected the environment. In 2002, Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve was established with the task of preserving natural values, habitats, flora and fauna, and typically indigenous culture.

Lung Ngoc Hoang is home to 976 species of flora and fauna, including 352 species of higher plants, 57 species of fungi, 59 species of benthic animals, 62 species of spiders, 100 species of insects, 13 species of mollusks, 173 species of algae, 75 species of fish, 72 species of birds, eight species of amphibians, 31 species of reptiles and 14 species of mammals. Many are rare species recorded in the Red Book of Vietnam and the world such as Ca Na (Elaeocarpus hygrophilus Kurz) and wild rice (Oryza rufipogon Griff).

After two decades of operation (in 2002), how has the Board worked to conserve, protect, rationally utilize and promote natural values, habitats, flora and fauna, and special culture of Lung Ngoc Hoang?

Over the years, Lung Ngoc Hoang has been cared and protected. The first and foremost is the direct attention and direction of the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial People's Committee considerably devoted resources to Lung Ngoc Hoang. In addition to establishment and maintenance of an affiliated specialized apparatus, the Provincial People's Committee arranged investment resources for research, conservation and development of some outstanding projects like dredging canals and building a solidified fire watchtower made of reinforced concrete for fire prevention and forest protection and purchasing machinery and equipment for search and rescue in case of forest fires. Besides, there is the active coordination of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Forest Protection Department, Fire Police, Phung Hiep district and related communes.

Mr. Dong Van Thanh, Chairman of Hau Giang Provincial People's Committee, said, the province prioritizes calling for infrastructure development investment, including infrastructure of accommodation, food and drink and entertainment in the protected area to enable ecotourism development.

The Board has stepped up educating its employees to uphold the sense of responsibility and fulfill their duties, especially regular patrolling and observation to deal with emerging incidents promptly. The agency has also cooperated with mass organizations to regularly educate forest protection and fire prevention in the dry season. In particular, it built 14 public self-management teams and five forest fire protection teams. The board also established a collective agreement on forest protection and forest fire prevention with surrounding communes and Phung Hiep Forest Protection Agency. Thus, no forest fires have been seen since 2011.

In addition, the board regularly checks salinity and water level in the forest; investigates and evaluates the status of biodiversity and plant changes and proposes adding new endangered species to the Red Book of Vietnam. While effectively managing the showroom (90 plant samples and 81 animal samples), it has also worked with related bodies such as Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Agency, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Mekong River Commission, Southern Institute of Ecology and media agencies to record existing flora and fauna species and introduce Lung Ngoc Hoang to call for ecotourism investors.

How is the Lung Ngoc Hoang Ecotourism Project meant to Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve and tourism development of Hau Giang province?

On June 7, 2021, the Hau Giang Provincial People’s Committee issued Decision No. 1015/QD-UBND approving the Ecotourism Project of Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve with the aim of conserving natural resources and biodiversity together with unlocking natural ecological potential of the special-use forest in a reasonable way to provide eco-tourism and environmental education services, create attractive destinations, and making Lung Ngoc Hoang a major tourism center of the province and a national tourist area of the country by 2030.

The approved project will create a premise for organizations and individuals seeking to lease Lung Ngoc Hoang forest environment to set up their ecological tourism investment projects in combination with rational forest protection and development and natural resource conservation; focus on educating environmental protection; implement benefit sharing policy linked to ecotourism development; and create jobs for people in the buffer zone.

The project clearly states that developed tourism products include traditional products (ecotourism, natural discovery, entertainment tourism, village tour and cuisine discovery) and unique products (Melaleuca Road, pure nature experience and discovery, scientific research and environmental education.)

The project will have three main working zones: Strictly protected zone (1,015.94 ha), ecological restoration zone (937.11 ha), and administrative and service subdivision (8.75 ha). Internal tourist routes include (1) Welcome Operations Center - Wetland Ecosystem - Lotus Pond - Giant Pond Ecotourism Site - Agricultural Farms, (2) Welcome Operations Center - Melaleuca Forest Ecosystem - Wild Animal Breeding Site - Environmental Education Site - Lotus Pond - Giant Pond Ecotourism Site, (3) Welcome Operations Center - Melaleuca Forest Ecosystem - Fishing Site - Amusement Park - Forest Park - Agricultural Farms, and (4) Ecological resort Site.

The project will be a solid basis for effectively tapping potential and grasping development opportunities, making tourism an active part of local development; help diversify and transform economic structure; protect and develop forests, nature conservation, biodiversity and environment protection.

How has the board worked to effectively implement the project? What are "bottlenecks" that need to be removed now?

To promote tourism at Lung Ngoc Hoang, Hau Giang province is calling investment capital for transport infrastructure construction to reach tourist areas in the province. It will give priority to building roads from Provincial Road 927 to the Nature Reserve and building waterway traffic from Nga Bay City to the Administrative Subdivision of the Nature Reserve. The board also proposed that the province and relevant bodies will soon invest in essential infrastructure such as Ecotourism Operation Center, large meeting rooms, and public service houses equipped with tourist service facilities; appoint employees to provide professional training in tourism services.

Mr. Stiermann Martin, a German expert with more than 40 years of experience in ecological tourism, said, Lung Ngoc Hoang has a beautiful natural landscape, fresh air, and tranquility, and is one of leading wetland conservation areas in the Mekong Delta today. By arousing available natural potential, Lung Ngoc Hoang will be an ideal ecological tourism destination in the near future.

Optimistically, on March 9, 2022, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 326/QD-TTg on allocation of land use in 2021 - 2030, with a vision to 2050 and five-year national land use plan in 2021-2025. Accordingly, Hau Giang province is allowed to convert a part of special-use forest land to production forest land. To carry out this policy, the board is working to review suitable forest land areas for transformation.

In the coming time, the agency will actively cooperate with partners and investors; and facilitate investors with its available expertise, advice and information. However, it also recommended that investors, when implementing their projects, pay special attention to project progress for better effectiveness of Lung Ngoc Hoang.

Thank you very much!

Source: Vietnam Business Forum