Preserving, Sustainably Developing Values of Cat Ba National Park

11:08:08 AM | 11/3/2022

Lying on the largest island of Cat Ba Archipelago (Cat Hai District, Hai Phong City), Cat Ba National Park is one of the world's biosphere reserves and a special-use forest with the richest biodiversity in Vietnam. In addition to preserving natural diversity, the park has great significance for national security and ecotourism development.

Cat Ba National Park has an important island ecosystem 

Many characteristic values

Cat Ba National Park is reportedly one of the national parks with important island ecosystems in Vietnam. The park, established on March 31, 1986 under Decision 79/CP of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers (present-day Prime Minister), is the first national park in the country with both forest and sea ecosystems. In 2004, Cat Ba Archipelago where Cat Ba National Park is located was recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.

After more than 35 years of development, from a small agro-forestry unit in charge of forest management, protection and development, Cat Ba National Park has constantly grown and affirmed its important role. The area has significantly expanded to 17,362.96ha now, with biodiversity also being enriched with many rare endemic species. As the core of the Cat Ba Islands World Biosphere Reserve, Cat Ba National Park represents typically tropical and subtropical marine ecosystems of Asia and builds an extremely rich landscape and habitat.

According to statistics, the park is currently home to more than 4,000 species of animals and plants, including many rare, endemic species such as white-headed Cat Ba langur, black squirrel, chamois, yellow-haired rhesus monkey and Cat Ba leopard gecko in addition to historical values that are still preserved to this day. In particular, this is the only conservation area of Vietnam and the world where small populations of Cat Ba langur exist. Its population has risen to 75-78 strong.

In the past years, Cat Ba National Park has successfully carried out 15 projects of all levels, from central to grassroots, to conserve and develop plant and animal genetic resources. Notably, 14 investment projects funded by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were aimed to improve management and leadership capacity to sustainably develop natural resources on the island district.

In the coming time, Cat Ba National Park will endeavor to gradually become a national and international center of biodiversity.

In order to harmonize natural ecosystem conservation and development, the park has built and renewed tourist routes and spots. Up to now, many ecotourism types are richly developed to give visitors many options: Exploring the bay ecosystem; exploring natural resources or community tourism; and experiencing the daily life of local people.

Besides, by training instructors with professional qualifications and educating tourists and people about love for nature and awareness of protecting forests and living environment and beautifying and preserving environmental landscapes, Cat Ba National Park annually attracts over 100,000 domestic and foreign tourists.

Towards sustainable development

Not only having a diverse ecosystem and attracting a large number of tourists, Cat Ba National Park is also exemplary of environmental protection. Its Management Board has coordinated with Cat Hai District People's Committee and relevant agencies to boost management and protection of forest and marine resources, forest fire prevention and tourism management.

Moreover, the board has actively launched joint conservation and development programs and projects such as Cat Ba Langur conservation project implemented by Münster Zoo and the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations; Cat Ba conservation and development program by Fauna & Flora International (FFI); coastal afforestation and CO2 emissions compensation program. Conserved values are divided into functional areas, including the strictly protected space - core zone, the limited protected space - buffer zone and community development support space - transition zone.

The Management Board of Cat Ba National Park has also studied and introduced specific mechanisms and policies to invest in biodiversity conservation; regularly organized training and seminars to improve management capacity for staff; increased investment funds; and supported machinery and equipment for biodiversity management.

Nguyen Van Thiu, Director of Cat Ba National Park, said that in the coming time, the park will continue to effectively apply Law on Forestry, Law on Biodiversity, Law on Fisheries and other regulatory documents on forest protection and development for the special-use forest system. This central task is of decisive significance to sustainable operation and development of the national park and this is the biggest goal of biodiversity conservation of the park and the World Biosphere Reserve as well.

Furthermore, the board has informed, persuaded and raised people's awareness of forest protection to timely prevent harmful impacts on biodiversity on Cat Ba Islands.

Particularly, in the immediate future, the board will recover and release caged fish farming households and relocate them outside the protected area; ensure people's livelihoods, and not affect the environment and landscape.

At the same time, it will coordinate with relevant bodies to focus on dismantling unlicensed and disqualified tourism constructions in the special-use forest and on water surfaces.

By combining ecotourism development with environmental protection, Cat Ba National Park has been gradually achieving its sustainable development goals and becoming an attractive destination for tourists in Hai Phong.

“These are important but difficult and challenging tasks, but Cat Ba National Park is determined to coordinate with authorities and intensify public communications and engagements for effective implementation, thus helping realize its tasks assigned by the city, especially to gradually turn Cat Ba Islands into a world natural heritage," he said.

Ngoc Tung (Vietnam Business Forum)