Vietnam sorely needs a leg up in terms of biodiversity preservation – but is it too late?
Vietnam has long been a dream for international conservationists. The land is naturally rich in flora and fauna, and its rainforests and reserves are home to natural wonders that can only make us question how much we really know about the natural world.
Biologists have been able to identify one hundred new species in the region, including animals like the barking deer, muntjac, and extremely rare saola, which is related to the common oxen.
However, habitat loss and uncontrolled poaching have been decimating animals in the country for decades now. In a WWF report titled “Root Causes of Biodiversity Loss in Vietnam Summary,” the WWF stated that “a large degree of species loss in Vietnam is due to hunting and non-timber forest product collection, both for household use and sale.”
This has been confirmed independently by other journalists who have been in the region, as local tours dissuade people from going too deeply into so-called national reserves, where thousands of animal snares and other traps are being recovered up to this day.
As of this writing, thousands of species are being hemmed in by the growing pressures brought about by economic expansion, and of course, poaching. Transparency International has pointed out that one of the key reasons why natural resources are being abused in this manner is because Vietnam, along with Brazil, Congo, and other African states, has a high Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
A glimmer of hope remains for Vietnam. Small, private efforts, like the one undertaken by the Korean SK Innovation in March of this year, can help make a difference. Volunteer employees from SK Innovation in South Korea teamed up with employees with their partner company in Vietnam, PetroVietnam Exploration Production, to help restore a mangrove forest.
The volunteers were able to plant a total of one thousands mangrove seedlings at a five-hectare area, and additional educational programs were provided to help educate the public about the importance of mangrove preservation. Students and professors from Tra Vinh University accompanied the fifty employees from both companies to the mangrove site.