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 Halong Bay Vietnam

Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam


Bai Tu Long National Park is situated in Bai Tu Long bay in Van Don district, Quang Ninh province. The topography of Bai Tu Long bay is similar to that of Ha Long bay, immediately to the south:

Bai Tu Long Bay National Park.

 limestone karst islands and islets, surrounded by marine waters. One distinctive feature of Bai Tu Long bay is

Ba Mun island, a larger island, composed of schist, sand and gravel, not limestone. Ba Mun island consists of a narrow strip of land, 18 km long and, on average, 1 km wide. The highest point on the island is Cai Quyt peak at 307 m. A number of streams originate on the central ridge of the island, most of which are seasonal.

Bai Tu Long National Park supports about 2,000 ha of lowland evergreen forest, most of which is on Ba Mun. This forest has, however, been heavily disturbed by selective timber extraction and very little undisturbed forest remains. On Tra Ngo island, however, significant stretches of limestone forest still remain.

Tree species diversity is high in the forest in the national park, with no one family dominating. Common tree species include members of the Caesalpiniaceae, Theaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Myrtaceae and Sapotaceae families. A total of 398 vascular plant species have been recorded on Ba Mun island to date, four of which are listed in the Red Data Book of Vietnam: Decussocarpus fleuryi, Goniothalamus chinensis, Morinda officinalis and Smilax glabra.

The national park also includes a number of significant patches of mangrove forest. The dominant mangrove species is Aegyceras corniculata, while Bruguiera gymnorhiza, Kandelia candel and Rhizophora stylosa are also present. The Ang valley on Tra Ngo island contains the largest patch of mangrove forest in the national park. It can be accessed through Cai De cave, a 2 km-long tunnel, which connects the valley to the sea.

Despite the national park's isolation from the mainland, it supports a high diversity of terrestrial fauna. Prior to 1975, the fauna of Ba Mun island was the most diverse and abundant known in Quang Ninh province. Subsequent decades of illegal hunting and timber extraction have, however, significantly reduced the diversity of the island's fauna (Anon. 1998). According to the investment plan for the former Ba Mun Nature Reserve (Anon. 1998), Eurasian Wild Pig Sus scrofa and Red Muntjac Muntiacus muntjak still occur, although the presence of other large mammal species, such as Asian Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, could not be confirmed.

The national park has been the focus of preliminary ornithological surveys. A single globally threatened species has been recorded: Pale-capped Pigeon Columba punicea (Eames and Tordoff in prep.).

Bai Tu Long National Park education centre opens

QUANG NINH — It was not just the young who appeared fascinated by the new environm

Multiform ecosystem: Bai Tu Long is home to many species of plants and animals listed in Viet Nam’s Red Book. — VNS File Photo

ental education centre in Bai Tu Long National Park, north of Ha Long Bay.

Older residents of Minh Chau Commune, Van Don Island closely inspected the exhibits on the plant and animal life that live in the park’s 15,700ha of sea, tidal and island land at the centre’s opening day on March 5.

"I want to learn more about the local environment but there are not many trees left," said Kieu Van Vien, from nearby Na San Village.

"The local rangers patrol the forest very strictly to protect what we have left. But I hope the centre will teach everyone about protecting the environment."

Unlike Ha Long Bay, few tourists make it to Bai Tu Long Bay. However, logging, poaching, over-fishing and the pollution from the province’s large coal mining industry are placing substantial pressure on the environment.

Poverty in the communes that surround the park mean it is frequently entered illegally as people search for food or to steal logs or hunt valuable animals to make ends meet.

Park director Nguyen Duc Tuy said an education environment centre in the national park was necessary for local community as well as tourists.

"It is significant component of our awareness strategy that will facilitate the area’s understanding of park issues."

Bai Tu Long National Park, in the northern province of Quang Ninh, was set up by the Government in 2001. The park covers the islands of Ba Mun, Tra Ngo Lon, Tra Ngo Nho, Sau Dong, the Sau Nam islands and another 20 smaller karst islands.

The park has 494 different plant species, 37 animals, 96 bird species, 15 amphibian species, 22 species of reptiles and 391 marine animals, according to a biodiversity study by British NGO Frontier Viet Nam.

One of the most endangered animals in the park is the dugong, also known as a sea cow. Listed in Viet Nam’s Red Book, the dugong is a large whale-like sea mammal that is in fact, more closely related to the elephant than the whale. Minh Chau fishermen found a 500kg dugong in park waters last December.

Safeguarding the park’s ecosystem is difficult because the area’s main communes of Minh Chau, Quan Lan, Ban Sen, Van Yen and Ha Long are far apart, spread across several islands, chief park ranger Pham Van Sy said.

Frontier Viet Nam has two projects in the park, focusing on evaluating biodiversity, improving the community’s environmental awareness and training forest rangers in research methods and collecting statistics on the local flora and fauna.

"I hope the centre will play an important role in addressing these issues and raising awareness not only the local community but among visitors," said Leo Bottrill, chief of representative Frontier-Vietnam. — VNS


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