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  Enviroment Research & Protection

Plan focuses on Mekong wetland ecosystems

An integrated fire and water management plan for improved wetland ecosystem management is to be implemented for the Mekong region, according to an announcement made at a recent national workshop.

The conference, organised by the Mekong Wet-lands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme (MWBP), brought together policy makers, wetland managers, ecologists and scientists to discuss the three major themes of legal and policy issues, environmental and fire research, and fire management.

The MWBP is engaged in assisting wetland managers address a wide range of conservation and livelihood issues related to wetland management. The wetlands of Tram Chim National Park were cited as an example of where fire and water management are vital.

"We are under pressure to keep Tram Chim National Park free of fires. While there were no viable alternative measures to effectively control fires, we took the approach of constructing canals and keeping high water levels year round to control fire risk," said park director Huynh The Phien.

He expressed concern that these measures would affect the ecosystem of the park when employed in the long term.

The wetlands of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta contain many stands of cajuput (melaleuca) trees that are subjected to uncontrolled man-made fires. Although fire is important in maintaining natural habitats, excessive use of fire can seriously damage ecologically-sensitive wetlands, Phien said.

Natural wildfires in upland forests and fires from woodland agriculture are of major public concern in Viet Nam, and managers of forest and wetland areas must address the issue, he said.

The organisation is assisting Tram Chim park rangers in conducting an 18-month research programme to evaluate an integrated fire and water management approach that does not necessitate measures such as canals and prolonged water inundation, both of which are known to have adverse impacts on wetland ecosystems. But because fire is an important natural ecological factor, the study will assess fire as a tool for environmental management.

"Gaps in policy, research and management issues related to wetlands conservation management will be identified by the study, so Viet Nam’s ecosystems will be better managed," said Dr Peter Moore, programme co-ordinator of IUCN Viet Nam.



Vietnamnews - (21/10/2005)


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