Human activity most serious threat to Vietnam biodiversity: report

By Phan Anh   November 3, 2021 | 11:03 pm PT
Human activity most serious threat to Vietnam biodiversity: report
A swath of forest in Quang Tri Province in central Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Tao
Human activity, particularly overexploitation of biological resources and conversion of land for agriculture and aquaculture, poses the biggest threat to Vietnam's biodiversity, a new report warns.

The report, which evaluates Vietnam’s biodiversity and the impacts of certain economic fields on it, was released by WWF Vietnam and the Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA).

It says Vietnam, home to over 50,000 species of plants and animals, is among the 16 most biodiverse countries in the world.

However, this biodiversity is being destroyed by several factors including population growth, resource overexploitation and the expansion of agriculture.

The report says that the existence of 21 percent of mammal species, 6.5 percent of birds, 19 percent of reptiles, 24 percent of amphibians, 38 percent of fish and 2.5 percent of vascular plants is under threat.

While vertebrates are most threatened by degradation of their natural environment, vascular plants are threatened by the abuse of biological resources (hunting, wildlife trade etc.), agriculture, aquaculture and the development of residential and commercial areas.

The two main threats to Vietnam’s biodiversity on a species level are wood harvesting and the planting of non-woody plants.

From 2000 to 2018, forested areas were most impacted by land conversion, with over 10,544 square kilometers of forested land being wiped out, mostly converted to plantations, orchards and land for other crops. Over the last two decades, 2.8 million hectares of natural forests have disappeared due to land conversion for commercial purposes, the report says.

It recommends new policies that can sustainably manage land conversion, protect biodiversity, evaluate and monitor impacts of economic activities on biodiversity and enlist help from both the government and private entities to safeguard and foster biodiversity.

Vuong Quoc Chien, who manages WWF Vietnam’s BIODEV2030 program, said approaches to protect biodiversity traditionally focused on resolving direct causes through stricter law enforcement or expanding protected areas, but these were not comprehensive enough, given the complexity and inter-relatedness of biodiversity to society, economy and human health.

"As such, resolving core issues through implementing biodiversity protection into all production fields is becoming an inevitable trend. Businesses would be considered important factors to facilitate this change, and their capabilities, awareness and initiatives when joining voluntary models for sustainable development would be the key factor to restore Vietnam’s biodiversity," he said at a conference last Friday to release the report.

Hoang Thi Thanh Nhan, deputy head of the BCA, said the integration of biodiversity protection into economic fields was one of the important goals in the national biodiversity strategy.

Nhan said the report provides useful information for policymakers to get a complete picture on the impacts of economic fields on biodiversity.

"Based on these, they can issue policies that encourage and develop models for sustainable production, bolster initiatives to develop a green economy and reduce negative impacts on biodiversity."

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