Wednesday , February 28 2024

Cát Tiên Park eyes IUCN Green List recognition

Bàu Sấu, or Crocodile Lake, a Ramsar site in Cát Tiên National Park in the southern Đồng Nai Province, offers a favourite eco-tour site. The park has been undergoing final assessment for recognition on the IUCN Green List. VNS Photo Công Thành

ĐỒNG NAI – Cát Tiên National Park has been building itself as the second site in Việt Nam for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List, a global initiative for successful nature conservation.

At its heart is the Green List Sustainability Standard, which provides a global benchmark for how to meet the protected and conserved area management challenges of the 21st century.

The effort is supported by the USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity, part of the Sustainable Forest Management and Biodiversity Conservation (VFBC) project – Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Wide Fund for Nature in Viet Nam (WWF-Việt Nam), in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The park, on an area of more than 82,000ha in the provinces of Đồng Nai, Lâm Đồng and Bình Phước, is a rich biodiversity site in Việt Nam, and it has been approaching the final assessment.

According to IUCN, the Cát Tiên Park dossier was scrutinised and all members of the Expert Assessment Group for the Green List (EAGL) approved the decision to nominate the site, and the independent reviewer approved the dossier in December 2023 and submitted it to the Green List Committee for the final stage.

Visitors enjoy a wildlife tour at night in Cát Tiên Park. It’s the only site in Việt Nam for watching wildlife species at close range. VNS Photo Công Thành

It is an outstanding site having implemented biodiversity monitoring since the early 2000s, with data on key species populations like birds, primates, deer and crocodiles, according to a report unveiled at EAGL meetings in April and September 2023.

The IUCN GL aims to recognise and increase the number of protected and conserved areas that deliver long-lasting conservation results for people and nature. It is jointly led by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and by the IUCN Secretariat.

Since the IUCN GL Standard was launched at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress, it has achieved global results including 77 certified protected and conserved areas from 18 countries around the world being Green Listed (as of end of 2023).

There are more than 300 engaged sites, of which 108 are formally committed to the IUCN Green List (approximate number of formally and informally registered sites and networks of sites).

A report from IUCN says more than 60 countries are engaged in the IUCN GL community globally, of which there are 31 greenlisted sites in 10 countries in Asia: Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Korea and Việt Nam.

At a stakeholder meeting in Cát Tiên Park on January 18, experts shared the IUCN GL’s benefits for Việt Nam, that it provides global recognition, attracting attention to Việt Nam’s commitment to biodiversity conservation.

USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity empowers Protected Areas in Việt Nam to achieve IUCN Green List recognition for biodiversity conservation.

Experts and participants join a stakeholder meeting in Cát Tiên Park. The park has been working toward recognition as Việt Nam’s second IUCN Green List site. Photo courtesy of IUCN Green List

The USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity has played a pivotal role in supporting the Protected Area (PA)’s aims for IUCN Green List recognition. The project sites include Cúc Phương National Park, Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, Vũ Quang National Park, Bạch Mã National Park, Đồng Châu-Khe Nước Trong Nature Reserve, Sông Thanh National Park, Bidoup-Núi Bà National Park and Cát Tiên National Park, participating in the IUCN GL programme

Two others sites, Côn Đảo National Park and Pù Mát National Park, are in the Registration and Application Phase.

In line with the IUCN GL regulations, the burden of the evaluation process lies with the PA management boards. This involves substantial effort associated with evidence collection, drafting documentation, hosting meetings and facilitating EAGL site visits.

Within the existing PA funding system where reliance on government budgets is the norm and dedicated funding for monitoring and evaluation is absent, the support provided by USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity is a major advantage. Project funding not only alleviates the financial burden but also ensures that the evaluation process proceeds unhindered, fostering a more robust foundation for biodiversity conservation.

As the IUCN GL becomes the benchmark for assessing Protected Area management effectiveness, USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity support increases the chance of long-term government funding for the IUCN GL.

Việt Nam has made commendable strides in biodiversity conservation, and its participation in the IUCN GL reflects a commitment to global environmental sustainability. After a meticulous 2-year evaluation process, Vân Long was the first site in Southeast Asia to be added to the Green List in 2019.

Annie Wallace, Director of USAID/Vietnam Office of Climate Change, Energy and Environment, said: “USAID biodiversity conservation programming in Việt Nam is supporting protected areas that exhibit good examples of management – like those outlined in the IUCN Green List standard – along with conservation best practices and initiatives.”

“The recent camera trap survey shows good results in Cát Tiên and it demonstrates that long term investments in improving management of protected areas yield conservation results, which is why the US Mission to Việt Nam through USAID is partnering with Cát Tiên throughout the Green List assessment process. USAID intends to continue to support candidate sites to obtain Green List status to demonstrate effective management and Green List standard applicability.”

A flying peacock is snapped at Cát Tiên National Park. The park offers opportunities for visitors to watch wildlife species living and moving in nature. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Mạnh Hiệp

“Green List Status is not just a conservation label but a holistic management approach that addresses the interconnectedness of protected areas, environmental health and human well-being,” she said.

She shared: “USAID will continue to partner with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to support candidate sites to obtain Green List status to highlight the effectiveness and applicability of the standard. I hope this partnership will inform the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s decision to potentially integrate the components of GL standards into national management mechanisms and policies.

“I expect that Green List status will bring greater recognition and political support for conservation efforts and provide deserved recognition that will motivate staff and managers of protected areas.”

“The government has invested heavily in protected area staffing and infrastructure, yet wildlife continues to disappear, as the results of the USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity camera trapping campaign clearly demonstrated. What is needed now is a renewed focus on protected area management effectiveness, which the IUCN GL is designed to assess and report on. Under USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity, IUCN is proud to be supporting the GL of eight protected areas,” shared by Jake Brunner – Head, IUCN Lower Mekong Subregion/Vietnam Management.

Nick Cox, Chief of Party- USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity, WWF stated: “Measuring progress and conservation impact is vital to improving the overall performance of Việt Nam’s national parks and nature reserves. The IUCN Green List initiative helps forest owners see where improvements are needed if their protected area is to reach an international management standard.”

Director of Cát Tiên National Park, Phạm Xuân Thịnh stated: “While awaiting results from the international IUCN committee, we commit to consistently implementing comprehensive conservation measures and tirelessly striving to meet the rigorous criteria set by the Green List. Our goal is to become one of a model of international standards in sustainable management and biodiversity protection.”

Biodiversity-based eco-tourism service has been creating important revenue for the Cát Tiên Park and communities living in the buffer zone as more than 85,000 tourists visited the site in 2023.

The park has been the only site in Việt Nam hosting wildlife watching night tours where visitors could see animals moving at very close range. VNS

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