Government of Vietnam acts to conserve wetlands

13/10/2003

Vietnam adopts Decree on the conservation and development of wetlands

Pham Dinh Viet Hong (Ms.), Ramsar Vietnam

A decision on the approval of the decree on the conservation and development of wetlands was signed by the Prime Minister Phan Van Khai on 23 September 2003. This is the first ever legal document on the management of wetlands. The decree provides an important legal basis for promoting sustainable management of wetlands in Vietnam.

Wetlands, as defined in the decree, include those with unique ecosystem and high biodiversity value, that balance water resource and ecological functions, and that are of national and international importance.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the national focal point in the implementation of the Ramsar Convention, will play a state management role in the conservation and sustainable exploitation of wetlands, including formulating policy and legislation on the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands.

The decree stipulates that wetland conservation areas need to be managed and restrictedly exploited. Constructions in the buffer zones that impact or potentially threaten wetland conservation areas are strictly prohibited. In special cases, when the constructions in the wetland conservation areas and their buffer zones are needed, prior approvals by the Prime Minister are required.

The decree also lays down that organisations and individuals who exploit resources on wetland areas take responsibility for protecting the uniqueness of the ecosystems and for conserving biodiversity. The state encourages wise uses of wetlands.

Following the Government Decree on the Conservation and Development of Wetland Areas, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will issue the "Strategic Action Plan on the Conservation and Sustainable Exploitation of Wetlands to 2010". This strategic action plan is an orientation document for the implementation of the Government Decree as well as Vietnam's commitments under the Ramsar Convention. The action plan provides guidance for policy makers, managers and researchers in conserving and exploiting wetland in Vietnam.

In addition, in the next two years, Vietnam will make strong efforts to nominate three more Ramsar sites among 65 already identified nationally important wetland areas.

In conclusion, after more than 13 years since the time when Vietnam joined the Ramsar Convention, the first legal document on wetlands is adopted and a number of follow up activities will be carried out. This affirms the efforts of the Government of Vietnam in sustainable management of wetlands in Vietnam as well as in fulfilling its commitments under the Ramsar Convention.

-- Pham Dinh Viet Hong, viethong@hn.vnn.vn.

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