Balancing economic development and environmental conservation is often difficult to maintain and usually results to clashes in favor of the former goal. Such case was experienced in Xuan Thuy National Park. Fortunately, the park has successfully addressed the issue by remanaging free cattle grazing activities in the core zone and creating alternative livelihoods for local farmers.

About 150 km south-west of Hanoi, Xuan Thuy National Park lies in the coastal zone of the Red River Delta. The park is a vast wetland which covers an area of 7,100 hectares and considered as the first Ramsar site in Vietnam – a designation recognized internationally for its ecological importance.


Despite being a national park and Ramsar site, Xuan Thuy’s biodiversity is under threat from unsustainable levels of fishing and overgrazing within the park boundaries. (The reckless cutting of mangrove trees for firewood has resulted to destruction of the forest. Likewise, the rapid and unmanaged grazing of cows, goats and buffaloes for years in the park adds pressure to the wetland) .This has prompted local authorities to set-up regulations around the park which often led to disputes and opposition from the communes. As such, minimizing conflict between economics and environment is the most critical issue for the community and for local authorities.

Desolite forest with Buffalos in the core zone (before project) (2007)

In several attempts to solve the issue, Xuan Thuy National Park cooperated with local functional agencies such as Nam Dinh Department of Natural Resources and Environment, communal People’s Committees in buffer and near-buffer zones (Giao Thien, Giao An, and Giao Huong) to set up suitable institutions for managing these activities. However, due to limitations on methodology and financial supports, localities have met difficulties in realizing management plans as stipulated by laws, which resulted in the continuousness of free cattle grazing.


In 2008, Xuan Thuy National Park has received supports in terms finance, institution, and new approach from the Wetlands Alliance Program (WAP) and Asian Coastal Resources Institute-Foundation (CORIN-Asia) in Vietnam that is Community-based sustainable wetlands management and settlement of resources use conflicts based on local demands.


Firstly, staff of the park has overcome all difficulties, doing field work, visiting and consulting with over 200 householders to understand their situations, then holding dialogues to improve the community’s awareness in a bid to reach local  commitment  to not freely release  their cattle in the restricted area of the national park.

Staff of Xuan Thuy National Park are consulting with
local farmers at their home


Also, local farmers together with the national park have also sought and built more sustainable livelihoods to replace cattle grazing. One of them is using rice straws to plant mushrooms. The  pilot   succeeded in generating incomes for local farmers and gradually mushroom culture becomes an alternative livelihood for cattle owners.


Consequently, the park can finally solve the most challenging issue of over-grazing.  Many results have been recognized such as removal of excessive  cattle  in the core area, the regeneration of mangrove and casuarinas forests, and incomes of local farmers generated from mushroom cultivating activities.

Mushroom culture – an alternative for local farmers.

Green comes back Con Lu after the removal of free cattle grazing (2008)

This is evidence which reflects the success of WAP local partners in Nam Dinh in encouraging the cooperation of muti-stakeholders, and the active participation of local communities to maintain the balance between conservation and development in the region of Xuan Thuy National Park.

Dinh Thi Phuong

CORIN-Asia Vietnam Coordinator


XUAN THUY RAMSAR - VIETNAM  (09:51 | 16-03-2018)
Small opinion – Big success  (09:49 | 16-03-2018)

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