Xuan Thuy is the 50th Ramsar site worldwide (1989) and the first Ramsar site in the Southeast Asia. In 1995, Government decided to establish Xuan Thuy Wetland Natural Reserve in the area, which was upgraded to Xuan Thuy National Park (XTNP) (2003).
Xuan Thuy is the 50th Ramsar site worldwide
(1989) and the first Ramsar site in the
In 1995, Government decided to establish Xuan Thuy Wetland Natural Reserve in
the area, which was upgraded to Xuan Thuy National Park (XTNP) (2003). Besides
that, XTNP was acknowledged as the critical core zone of the Red River Delta
Biosphere Reserve (2004). All of the national and international titles of Xuan
Park and Biosphere Reserve somehow reflect
importance/values of this area in terms of biodiversity conservation,
socio-economics, environmental and social education, and ecotourism.
XuanThuyNational Park Area
In order to preserve and develop its
natural values, Xuan Thuy Ramsar has faced with many challenges and forced the
local strived to improve management conditions. For instance, (1) XTNP
initially had only 5 staffs with limited technical and professional capacities;
(2) The institutional arrangement for management of such a wetlands and
estuarial area like Xuan Thuy hindered XTNP management board from implementing
monitoring activities to prevent over-exploiting livelihoods of the local
communities; and (3) Poor infrastructure and facilities made local authorities
and staffs’ job become more and more difficult. However, the most challenges
for XTNP management board must be the high pressure of natural resources
exploitation and the overlapping management and conflicts between different
interested groups. Specifically, among 46 thousands of residents living in
7,300 hectares of the buffer zone, 50% of them have livelihoods and incomes
dependent on wetland resources. At the management level, there are a number of
Governmental institutions that have rights and responsibilities over Xuan Thuy
Ramsar site, but lack effective coordination and cooperation mechanisms.
PRACTICE AND LESSONS LEARNT
1.Developing capacities for the management board of XTNP
There is a number of projects funded by
National Government to help XTNP to improve its management capacities. Since
2003, a Governmental project specifically for the core zone, the restricted
management area, has developed and implemented, in which infrastructure and
facilities were invested to support the work of conservation and development.
Now, XTNP has a new office center with different function rooms such as natural
resources management, eco-tourism, research, and administration. Especially,
the Ramsar site have been continuously cooperating with scientists and local
communities to set up a natural museum, which will become a place for not only
preserving and exhibiting of Xuan Thuy Biodiversity and culture, but a tool for
educating and researching.
2: New office center of XTNP
3: Area observation station
In terms of human
resources, despite of the fact that XTNP just established in 2003, it has been
continuously growing to recruit 20 local staffs whose professions are in
different fields of biology, forestry, aquaculture, tourism, etc. Moreover, the
staff participate many training programs to improve their knowledge and
practical skills like Environmental Education Program, Eco-tourism Development,
and Community Development.
Moreover, Xuan Thuy strengthened its
institutional capacity to be able to set up cooperation and collaboration
mechanisms with authorized agents in the area; to successfully register the
land-use right which is the basic for XTNP management board to control and
manage resources and activities within the area of wetlands.
2.Raising awareness for local communities
Xuan Thuy management board understands
clearly that conservation and wise-use of resources of the Ramsar can only be
achieved through a proactive participation of all sectors (local communities,
youth, and tourists). Therefore, for years XTNP has developed and carried out
many educational programs, which could be extracurricular activities for
students, site visits, competition campaigns, news on local radio or printed
materials like posters and leaflets.
To be more visual and practical, XTNP
have constructed and improved infrastructures including a
NationalMuseum and a
based in XTNP office center, and Environmental Education Centers in different
communes of the buffer zone of the park.
5: Environmental protection lessons for pupils
6: Coastal Clean up campaign
3.Cooperation and Scientific research
Thuy Ramsar has become a research field work for many national and
international scientists. There are more than 10 PhD thesis, tens of master and
hundreds of research papers of honor students of over 30 university nationwide.
XTNP has also cooperated with many
organizations, mostly NGOs to implement projects related to conservation and
sustainable development, many of which became case-studies for other natural
reserve sites in
The projects can be categorized into 3 groups:
- Conservation projects in the core zone: XTNP core zone
is the protected area, in which no human activity is allowed, according to
National Government Laws. Conservation projects cover activities to conserve
mangroves, migratory birds, wetlands ecosystem and other aquatic animals.
- Development projects in the buffer zone: to promote
sustainable and environmentally friendly livelihoods, and establish proper
mechanisms such as co-management guidelines.
- Conservation-Development projects in the whole area:
those projects will focus on building capacity for the local staff and
communities to raise awareness for the people and carry out alternative
livelihood pilots in order to eliminate/minimize human pressure on natural
resource exploitation in the core zone of the park.
There are many international
organizations cooperating with and assisting XTNP to implement the projects
mentioned above. For example: Global Environment Fund (GEF UNDP), Embassy of
Denmark, Holland and The U.S, Birdlife International, Marinelife conservation
and community development (MCD), Wetlands Alliance Programme (WAP) and Asian
Coastal Resource Institute Foundation (CORIN-Asia), among others.
4.Establishment of management mechanism
Management Regulation: serves as the basic and master management plan for the
whole national park.
on sustainable and wise use of wetlands resource of XTNP – Xuan Thuy Ramsar:
Benefit and responsibility sharing is the
real local needs in Xuan Thuy Ramsar, which promote local authorities and
communities in the area to legalize regulations for balancing resource
conservation and economic development. More importantly, those regulations had
developed through participation approach, in which local communities especially
those rely on and impact on wetlands actively got involved from planning,
implementing to monitoring steps. Regulations obtained local commitment were
then submitted to authorized institutions at higher levels for approval such as
Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development and Provincial People’s
One successful story is the piloting
activity to set up regulation for co-management among XTNP management board,
local councils and clam farmers initiated by XTNP in 2006. The
guideline/regulation clearly defined responsibilities and benefits of each
stakeholder as the local harvest and culture clams on over 1,000 hectares of
the mud-flat in the core zone of the park. As a result, clams were harvested
under control (at appropriate times and areas) to preserve the shellfish
resources while local people can continue to exploit and generate good income
from wetlands resources and contribute to a management fund (through paying
tax). Now, this co-management guideline has become a case study for other
natural reserve sites in
and proved to the National Government possibility to mitigate laws regarding to
sustainable management of natural resources based on wise use and good
livelihood practices of the local people.
mechanism among relevant institutions:
management plan: This is an on-going task for the park to develop regulations
and development plans to promote eco-tourism service, especially that based on
village conventions: XTNP stay closely with communities to make them understand
the importance of environmental and resource protection, thereby facilitating
villages to develop “Green village convention” regarding to biodiversity
protection, migratory protection, wildlife protection, etc. There is a number
of community clubs established with regards to the wetland resources protection
purpose, such as Bird protection club, Shellfish Association, among others.
5. Program for the buffer zone
There are different projects within the
program to improve rural area and livelihoods of the local to create
sustainable alternative income generating sources, which in turn will reduce
human encroachment and exploitation pressure on the park.
In order to achieve the goal stated
above, the program focuses on technical and financial supports, together with
stimulating community-based eco-tourism. Technical support includes technology
transfer for the local to be able to practice environmentally friendly
livelihoods such as bee keeping, mushroom culture on rice straws, extensive
shrimp farming, etc. In terms of financial support, the park invested for the
local communities to set up livelihood pilots, and construct welfare centers,
for example: Community center of environmental education, schools, public
health centers, community houses, transportation (roads), and Environmental
sanitation services. All of those have improve quality of life of the local
communities living in the buffer zone of the park, which gradually change their
attitudes and awareness on environment and sustainable development cemented
tightly with the wetlands resources.
One major component of the program for
buffer zone development is eco-tourism. Master plan for eco-tourism development
in XTNP area has a vision of 15-20 years, and set out steps to gradually
upgrade facilities, human resources and services for eco-tourism. At the same
time, the park focuses more on “marketing” to introduce Xuan Thuy to the
public, and cooperates with tourism agencies to explore and open potential
tours, especially bird watching tours for national and international visitors.
On the ground, the park highlights role of community participation in the
eco-tourism system in the Ramsar.
Xuan Thuy Ramsar has been through a hard
period with strong supports of Government and national and international
organizations to achieved successes in its life-work of conservation and
development. There would be many challenges ahead,XTNP management board would require proper
management policies to uphold its values for benefiting communities in the
short terms, and to preserve the wetlands for meeting demands of the next