Nguyen Huu Thien, an eco-expert from the World Wildlife Fund, spoke to Thoi bao Kinh te Sai Gon newspaper (Sai Gon Economics Times) about Tram Chim National Park.
What lead to the park's recognition?
First, it meets five out of nine required criteria set by the Ramsar Convention.
Tram Chim Park covers an area of 7,500 ha, of which 1,800 ha consist of mangrove forest and the rest wetlands. It is the sanctuary for 231 bird species, including cranes, 191 plant species and 150 fish species.
In addition, the Birdlife Organisation ranked Tram Chim as one of the most important bird sanctuaries in Viet Nam.
Most old and beautiful Dong Thap Muoi (the Plain of Reeds) landscapes seem to have disappeared, with only the park and the Lang Sen, in southern Long An Province remaining.
Retaining these areas will have great significance for the country in terms of bio-diversity, culture, eco-tourism and scientific research.
Due to its rich natural resources, Tram Chim has been a good supplier to the local community.
What are the differences between the Tram Chim and other Ramsar wetlands?
Tram Chim covers some 7,500ha, stretching from Dong Thap to Tien Giang and then to Long An Province. In the past, the Plain of Reeds was the sanctuary of many species, including crocodiles and monkeys. Wet grasslands and rice paddies in Tram Chim cannot be found elsewhere in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
The park is also home to a large population of red-head cranes which migrate here from January to late May every year.
What are the benefits of being recognised by Ramsar?
It is a good opportunity for us to conserve the wetlands in Tram Chim. The first advantage of being recognised by Ramsar is the prestige it brings.
The park has become the 2,000th Ramsar site in the world. With such recognition, it will receive support and assistance from international experts as well as a small fund from the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands and other conservation funds.
What conservation projects are currently taking place at the park?
The park has received quite a lot of support from the Ha Noi National University, Can Tho University, the Internal Crane Fund (ICF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the WWF and others.
Thanks to this support we have been able to protect the ecosystem of the park, particularly the rational management of water in accordance to the law of nature in the Plain of Reeds. Local people have gathered themselves in groups to use natural resources in the park in a sustainable way.
How will the "flow water" problem in Tram Chim be solved?
The most serious threat to the park's eco-system is the 4-5m high dikes built around it to prevent floods and fires in 2003.
Before this time, the dikes were only about 2m from ground level. Due to current weather conditions, necessitating upgrades, the dykes would prevent water from entering the park, particularly in the dry season.
The flood season is a good time for fish coming from the sea to lay their eggs in the park. Yet, the high dikes creates a barrier for the fish to enter. As a result, the fish population inside the park will become smaller alongside the number of water birds who feed on them.
A possible solution entails lowering the dike heights back to 2m or building weirs to enable fish to enter the park during the flood season. — VNS