Local communities to be more involved in protecting National Parks
Ha Noi - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has recently launched four small-scale environmental projects valued at more than US$90,700, to encourage local communities to participate in the conservation of biological resources and the genetic resources of plants in northern and central Viet Nam.
The four projects are funded under the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP) in Viet Nam, which since early 1999, has supported eleven community projects to address local environmental problems in the areas of biodiversity and climate change. The projects have been implemented in the provinces of Cao Bang, Vinh Phuc, Ha Tay, Hai Phong, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Thua Thien Hue, and Dak Lak.
"Many regions in Viet Nam contain a diverse range of habitats and species of evergreen subtropical and tropical monsoon forests," said UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Edouard A. Wattez. "But these regions are facing ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss due to the overexploitation of the natural resources by local communities."
"Therefore, these four new projects will work to enhance local communities' awareness about biodiversity and agrobiodiversity conservation, and to promote rational use of these valuable resources. These projects will also help develop agricultural production models that suit local conditions and help increase the income of local communities, so as to reduce their dependence on natural resources for their daily subsistence."
One of the projects will be carried out in Loc Tri commune, one of the eleven communes in the buffer zone of Bach Ma National Park, in Thua Thien Hue province. The project will contribute to conserving the biodiversity of the Park, by developing an appropriate integrated buffer zone development and conservation model. This model is expected to promote the role and responsibilities, as well as the involvement and participation of local authorities and communities, and to enhance the commune's cooperation with the Park management board in managing and protecting the National Park.
The second project will contribute to achieving the overall goal of maintaining the biodiversity of the terrestrial and marine ecosystems in the Cat Ba National Park, on Cat Ba Island, offshore from Hai Phong City. The project will work in the Gia Luan and Viet Hai communes in the core and buffer zone of the Park, to raise environmental awareness among local stakeholders and the community. The project aims to generate their support for the conservation of the Park and to create alternative livelihoods for the local community, thus reducing their dependence on the Park's resources. The project will also contribute to conserving the variety of local mandarin, which are of high economic value, but are currently facing deterioration and are threatened by genetic loss.
The third project will be carried out in the Tam Quan, Dai Dinh and Dao Tru communes, situated in the buffer zone of Tam Dao National Park, in the northern province of Vinh Phuc province. The project will help to mitigate pressing biodiversity threats by enhancing awareness of conservation issues among the local authorities and community in the project area. The project will also help improve the people's living standards and encourage them to participate actively in the management and protection of the Park and its buffer zone, so as to assure their livelihoods while conserving the Park's rich biodiversity.
The fourth project will be carried out in Phong Chau and Thong Hue communes, the northern mountain province of Cao Bang œ home to a number of ethnic minority groups, and rich in plant genetic resources. The project aims to contribute to the conservation of the agrobiodiversity of the local district by developing an on-farm conservation model, which encourages farmers to participate in agrobiodiversity conservation. It will transfer technology on sustainable cultivation on sloping land, utilizing native plant species and varieties in the district in an agroforestry model.
Founded in 1991, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a financial mechanism that provides grant funds and concessional funds to developing countries and those countries with economies in transition, for projects and activities that aim to protect the global environment. The GEF has defined four focal areas for its programmes: biodiversity, climate change, international waters and ozone layer depletion. The fund has pledged a total of US$2.75 billion for the 1998-2001 period. GEF is implemented by UNDP, the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme.The GEF Small Grants Programme was launched in 1992 by UNDP, providing grants of up to US$50,000 and other support to community-based groups and non-governmental organisations, for activities that address local problems related to the GEF areas of concern. The GEF/SGP is currently active through over fifty country programmes, with more than one thousand projects, in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Pacific.