A project to strengthen the marine management capacity of the Nui Chua National Park in Ninh Thuan Province, organised by the park and the World Wildlife Fund, was launched recently.
The Strengthening Capacities for Marine Conservation and Poverty Alleviation initiative includes staff training in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, socio-economic surveying and coral reef monitoring, to work towards the long-term goal of developing a marine protected area (MPA) in the national park. It was implemented with the support of the Finnish Seimenpuu Foundation, which provided computers, software and a global positioning system (GPS).
"We are very excited about the project," said park director Nguyen Huu Hoan. "It has improved our capacity to plan and manage local marine resources sustainably and also to improve the economic situation of the park."
Located in one of Viet Nam’s poorest coastal areas, the Nui Chua National Park includes over 7,000ha of marine areas. Previously a nature reserve, it was designated a national park in 2003 by prime ministerial Decision 134/TTg.
Staff members are being trained to conduct socio-economic surveys of households in and around the park. These surveys will help to assess the region’s socio-economic conditions and facilitate the implementation of measures to improve living conditions, which will be co-ordinated with projects to protect the marine environment.
"The coral reef ecosystems at Nui Chua are nationally significant, and include many unique marine species that are now under mounting pressure," said Keith Symington, Marine Programme Co-ordinator of WWF Indochina’s Viet Nam programme.
"The challenge is to manage these ecosystems sustainably, meeting conservation measures, and therefore ensuring future generations can derive their income from local marine resources".
The project partners hope to demonstrate that marine conservation and future socio-economic security can go hand in hand. Preliminary survey results indicate that local communities support marine conservation and want to develop economic approaches that reduce pressures on marine resources, such as overfishing.
Ecotourism and sustainable aquaculture were among the measures suggested by the survey results, while other activities planned include an innovative community-based exercise called 3D Modelling, in which local fishermen and other stakeholders will utilise IT technology to identify MPA management strategies. A series of community workshops, aimed at developing an MPA management plan, is also planned in the near future.
Vietnamnews - (01/08/2005)