Cat Ba National Park Sees New Opportunities

8:26:15 PM | 10/24/2023

Ha Long Bay - Cat Ba Archipelago Complex was recognized as a world natural heritage by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its 45th meeting session on September 16, 2023. This continued to create important milestones and new opportunities on the development path of Cat Ba National Park (located in the Cat Ba Archipelago).

Monkey Island

Acclaimed efforts

Cat Ba National Park, established on March 31, 1986 under Decision 79/CP of the Council of Ministers (now the Prime Minister), is the first national park in the country that consists of both terrestrial ecosystems and marine ecosystems, particularly with island ecosystems.

In 2004, Cat Ba Archipelago was recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve, comprising a special forest with the richest biodiversity in Vietnam. As the heart of the Cat Ba Archipelago World Biosphere Reserve, over the past 20 years, Cat Ba National Park has continuously affirmed its important role in preserving natural diversity.

Its area has expanded significantly since its establishment, to 17,362.96 ha now. Its biodiversity has also increased, with many rare endemic species. The park is typical of tropical and subtropical marine and island ecosystems of Asia, creating extremely rich landscapes and habitats.

According to statistics, Cat Ba National Park is currently home to over 4,000 species of animals and plants, including many rare and endemic species such as Cat Ba white-headed langur, black squirrel, chamois, golden-haired monkey and Cat Ba gecko, along with historical values preserved till today. Notably, this place is the only habitat in Vietnam and the world where a small population of Cat Ba langur is living, counting over 80 individuals.

Moreover, in recent years, the park has successfully carried out many projects at central and local levels to preserve and develop animal and plant genes. Specifically, 14 investment projects funded by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) improved management and leadership capacity to sustainably develop natural resources on the island district.

Cat Ba National Park is striving to become a national and international biodiversity center. The park has actively coordinated to carry out conservation and development programs and projects such as Cat Ba langur conservation project funded by the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations and Muenster Zoo - Germany; Cat Ba Conservation and Development Program funded by Fauna & Flora International (IFF) Conservation Organization; and coastal afforestation carbon offset program. Conservation values are divided into functional areas, including strictly protected space - core area, partially protected space - buffer zone, and community development support space - transitional zone.

Infrastructure, especially transportation infrastructure, in Cat Ba National Park, has been invested and upgraded in recent years. Photo: Road across Cat Ba Island

"Golden opportunity" for tourism development

Mr. Nguyen Van Thiu, Director of Cat Ba National Park, said: UNESCO's recognition of Cat Ba Archipelago, including Cat Ba National Park, as part of the Ha Long Bay - Cat Ba Archipelago World Natural Heritage not only affirms the values of Cat Ba National Park as mentioned above, but also acknowledges the tireless effort of the park's staff. For years, they have quietly protected and promoted those values, so that they have today become invaluable assets of Hai Phong, Vietnam and the whole world as well.

The Ha Long Bay - Cat Ba Archipelago Complex is recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage for its natural beauty, including its spectacular, untouched scenery of islands covered with vegetation, saltwater lakes, sharp limestone peaks with steep cliffs rising above the sea.

“The success of the park also results from the effort of all the staff over time. They endeavored to lay the foundation for protecting, preserving, and enhancing the park to what it is today. At the same time, we always acknowledge the support and coordination of local authorities and people in protecting forests and animal and plant species,” he emphasized.

In the coming time, the park will continue to promote communication programs on biodiversity and conservation of precious genetic resources; coordinate with schools, colleges, and universities inside and outside the city to organize field trips for students to learn about the park and its heritage preservation tasks.

To further enhance heritage values of the Cat Ba Archipelago, Cat Ba National Park will further inform, mobilize and raise people's awareness of forest protection and promptly prevent harmful impacts on biodiversity.

Recently, the park has coordinated with the Cat Hai District People's Committee and relevant agencies of Hai Phong City to relocate households that illegally raised fish in cages out of the protected area, thus ensuring their livelihoods while not affecting the environment and landscape. It has collaborated with authorities to dismantle unauthorized tourism projects on forest areas and water surfaces.

To ensure the harmony of natural ecosystem conservation and development, Cat Ba National Park has built and reformed tourist routes and attractions. Up to now, there are many types of richly developed ecotourism with many options for tourists like discovering the bay ecosystem, exploring natural resources and community tourism, and experiencing the life of local people. Every year, Cat Ba National Park attracts over 100,000 domestic and foreign tourists.

At the same time, the park has focused on building a professional workforce and conveyed the love of nature and the awareness of forest and environmental protection to tourists and people.

By Ngoc Tung, Vietnam Business Forum