Viet Nam names important Mekong Delta site

The Vietnam Environment Administration, Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment, has designated that country's fourth Wetland of International Importance as of World Wetlands Day 2012, bringing the total number of Ramsar Sites globally to 2,000. As summarized by Ramsar's Saber Masoomi from the accompanying RIS data, Tram Chim National Park (7,313 hectares, 10°42'49"N 105°30'12"E) is one of the last remnants of the Plain of Reeds wetland ecosystem, which previously covered some 700,000 ha of the Mekong Delta in southwestern Viet Nam. The site is one of the very few places in the region where the Brownbeard Rice (Oryza rufipogon) communities survive.

The wetland supports 9 bird and 5 fish species that are globally threatened, including the critically endangered Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis and the Giant Barb Catlocarpio siamensis. The site regularly supports more than 20,000 waterbirds in the dry season, and more than 1% of population of 6 waterbird species, especially the Easter Sarus Crane Grus antigone sharpii.

The near natural landscape of the park serves to break wave energy during the flood season, helping to protect the houses of about 20,000 people along its eastern and southern dykes, as well as having a significant capacity to mitigate the damage from floods and droughts for the downstream part of the Mekong Delta. The beautiful landscape of the park attracts visitors internationally. The site has historical values as during the American-Vietnam war many battles took place in the plain. The park is a rich source of grass for fodder, trees for fuel and, most importantly, fish, which provide the main source of protein for local people.

Tram Chim is one of the demonstration sites of the 'Mekong River Basin Wetland Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme, Phase I', implemented by IUCN, the Mekong River Commission (MRC), and UNDP, with funding from UNDP/GEF and SIDA. The goal of the programme is to assist countries in the Lower Mekong subregion to develop new approaches to integrating the protection and sustainable use of wetland biodiversity with economic development, including ecotourism development. Recently, from 2007 to 2011, WWF supported Tram Chim National Park with a series of research and pilot activities to rehabilitate the natural habitats.

The Convention presently covers 160 Contracting Parties with 2,000 Wetlands of International Importance, with a total area of 192, 138, 388 hectares (1,921,283.88 km2).

Photos by Mr Nguyen Van Hung

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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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