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Local community is key for biodiversity conservation


   In the past few years, the Party and the State have paid more attention to biodiversity conservation. This has been done by issuing policies on the management and conservation of gene sources, zoning and development of national parks and natural conservation areas and other matters.

   However, the contribution of the local community is needed, in addition to that of the government to improve biodiversity conservation. The State needs to encourage the local community to grow food crops, herbal plants and raise wild animals to ensure biodiversity conservation in Việt Nam is carried out in a sustainable way.

Visitors at the Cúc Phương Primate Conservation Park - One of the centres that store rare genes Sika deer raising brings about high economic values

   Ex-situ conservation is one of the most important solutions that reduces the pressure on in-situ conservation and has positive impacts on biodiversity conservation. The government needs to encourage the local community to make more financial and physical efforts to preserve and enlarge the number of species, variety of breed and animalcules, while ensuring that the local community benefits from their actions. The successful expansion of the sika deer population in the 1980s and the preservation of Heritage Trees conducted by the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment have proven that the local community is of importance in biodiversity conservation and development.

   At the moment, most animal and plant genes in Việt Nam are stored at local individual farms. A small number of businessmen in local areas have worked with scientists to breed and expand the population of wild animals and plants to develop the economy and preserve genes. They have succeeded in breeding some animals, such as Móng Cái and Tây Nguyên pigs, Phú Quốc ridgeback, ri chicken and Phú Thọ nine-spur chicken, as well as Đông Tảo chicken and Phan Rang sheep.

   Besides the government’s efforts to expand the population of monkeys and other similar species at the State-funded wild animal rescue centres, the local people also helped save other animals from extinction, including cobras, sika deers and porcupines.

   However, this has sparked a debate among scientists and governmental regulators over whether local people should be permitted to breed and raise wild animals. This issue needs to be solved via a practical example from the local community.

   In practice, the local people of the two districts of Hương Sơn and Kỳ Anh in the central-region province of Hà Tĩnh in the 1920s and 1930s began capturing wild deers to raise them in local farms. Acknowledging the economic and biological values that deers offer, the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology in 1976 co-operated with the National Institute of Animal Sciences to provide technical assistance for State-run and private farms to breed and raise deers. The career of sika deer raising has undergone many challenges to become an efficient job with the population of the species having increased by a dozen times, as compared to nearly 100 years ago. A similar example is the cobra, which was nearly extinct in the middle of the 20th century. But thanks to the encouragement of local authorities and technical support of scientists from the State’s key science programme titled “Biology to serve agricultural economy development”, breeding and raising cobras have spread across the country since 1981 and brought about positive economic values and practical benefits to the community.

   Therefore, it can be concluded that biodiversity conservation will be sustainable if the relevant authorities are able to encourage the local community to get together and put in their best efforts based on appropriate policies and strict management mechanisms.

Prof. D.Sc. Đặng Huy Huỳnh
Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment

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