News / Asia

Dam Project Highlights Clash with Wildlife in Vietnam

This undated  handout photo released by the WWF shows a Javan rhino inside the Nam Cat Tien park in Southern Vietnam. A critically endangered species of rhino has been poached to extinction in Vietnam, wildlife groups said on after the country's last Java
This undated handout photo released by the WWF shows a Javan rhino inside the Nam Cat Tien park in Southern Vietnam. A critically endangered species of rhino has been poached to extinction in Vietnam, wildlife groups said on after the country's last Java
Marianne Brown

The fate of one of Vietnam’s most important national parks is hanging in the balance this week as the government decides whether to back a plan to build two hydropower dams in the area.

Rare wildife sanctuary

Wedged between swathes of paddy fields and only 161 kilometers north east from the country’s biggest city, Ho Chi Minh, Cat Tien park provides a rare sanctuary for native wildlife.

In nearly 80,000 hectares of lush lowland forest and expansive wetlands, rare animals like the duoc langur and the pigmy slow loris make a home, alongside 100 other endangered mammals.

But much of that could change if the government approves plans to build two hydropower dams on the Dong Nai River, which runs through the park.

The river is the second largest in south Vietnam.

Environment impact

Director of the park, Tran Van Thanh, warns there will be a serious impact on biodiversity.

“If they build the dam, many trucks will be used for building and that means more people will come to the area to work," he said. "They will destroy the forest and use forest products. They will even use dynamite to dig the material. They will make noise and build the road. They will have a lot of impact on wildlife."

If the project is approved, work on Dong Nai 6 and 6A will begin in 2015.

Investors say the 241 megawatt dams will have minimal impact on the environment. A total of 372 hectares of forest will be affected, straddling four provinces, but only 137 hectares of that is in Cat Tien Park.

Despite the assurances, Duong Trung Quoc, National Assembly representative for Dong Nai province, says he is against the move.

Quoc says local people do not want the dams and it is his job to represent their views. However, professionals and local media remain divided over the issue so all research should be presented clearly.

In a statement released in September, the conservation group the Vietnam Association for Conservation of the Nature and Environment caused a stir in the local media by supporting of the plan.

The group said the dams would not be built in the center of the park and thus would not damage the core biodiversity area.

Park director Thanh disagrees. He argues that with some 200,000 people currently living around the park, human encroachment has already reached critical levels. Any more pressure, he says, would be devastating.

“With more people it is more difficult to protect this area. Now every year we have about 300-500 cases of people taking forest products. Every year we collect a lot of traps and guns. For example, last year we collected about 25,000 traps and around 20 guns from hunters,” Thanh stated.

Expanding eneregy, economic growth

Others argue Vietnam needs the energy. With an ever expanding population and economic growth, Vietnam’s power consumption is forecast to double in the next 10 years. Demand for electricity alone is increasing by about 15 percent every year.

Jeremy Carew-Reid, director of the Center for Environmental Management, says the dam proposal in Dong Nai province reflects what is happening throughout Vietnam and the Mekong region.

Carew-Reid says a total transformation in the aquatic environment is taking place due to the pace and scale of hydro development.

He says the problem is this is happening with little effective assessment, planning or management,  and the impacts on the natural and cultural diversity of the region are very significant.

Vo Van Chanh, deputy director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Dong Nai province, says authorities are aware of the different arguments surrounding the dam.

Chanh says the provincial People’s Committee asked the department to organize a conference last week to discuss the plan. After hearing both negative and positive arguments, the department is now considering the best course of action to take.

He says he has not yet decided which side to take, but the department is in the process of writing up a plan aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of the dams.

Extinct species

The status of many of Vietnam’s endangered species is already critical, with a rampant black market trade in listed animals for traditional medicine and the harvesting of forest products by local communities.

Just last week the World Wide Fund for Nature, together with officials from Cat Tien, announced that one of the park’s most famous species - the Javan rhino - was now extinct. The last known animal to survive in Vietnam was found dead last year with a bullet in its leg and its horn sawn off.

Some fear if developers get their way and the dams are built, many more endangered species in Vietnam will meet the fate of the Javan rhino.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid