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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid