Thousands of people join a project to save the foundations of their livelihoods: the biodiversity and ecosystems of the Central Annamites
The Central Annamites Landscape holds one of the biggest contiguous natural forests in continental Asia, constituting a reservoir of rich and unique biodiversity. The landscape as a whole contains 134 mammal species and over 500 species of birds. There are several rare, endemic and lesser-known species that only in recent years have become known to science, such as the critically endangered Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) and large-antlered muntjac (Muntiacus vuquanghensis). However, like most of the rich biodiversity hot spots on the continent, human development is posing severe threats to the landscape, and large scale legal and illegal forest conversion, omnipresent logging, poaching and illegal wildlife trade seems to proliferate unabated. Other critical issues such as limited law enforcement, heavy dependence by local people on natural forest resources for their livelihood, and the limited understanding of the important role of ecosystems we depend on, exacerbate the problems.
Building on the successes of phase I, CarBi II will continue to address the prominent threats to the biological diversity and ecosystems in the region with expanded and intensified activities. Increased engagement of the local people, who are still poor and depend mostly on natural resources for their livelihoods, aimed at raising awareness and stimulating positive behavior change towards conservation, is one of the key philosophies of the project. The project will also support alternative livelihood opportunities and decrease incentives for illegal exploitation of natural resources. A new approach which the project will pursue in phase II, is the establishment of several Village Development Funds which will be managed by the local communities, facilitating a borrowing facility for them to generate more income streams from selected agro-forestry-based activities and other alternative livelihoods. At least fifty villages in the project area will benefit from this activity, of which at least thirty will be in Vietnam.
A new sustainable financing mechanism will be also introduced and piloted in Vietnam., namely a Biodiversity Offset Strategy, which has been implemented successfully in other countries. It requires users of environmental/ecosystem services not only to pay for the services generated by the natural resources, but also for the biodiversity loss it causes. This model will be piloted in Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam, and lessons learned will be applied to advocate the mechanism at the central level for potential uptake in a legal framework which will guide implementation country wide. Phase II also continues with community-based forest protection programs such as community-based forest management (CFM), and Payment for Forest Environmental Services (PFES), which showed promising results in Phase I in increasing income for the local people, as well as enhanced forest protection.
Communities will also be supported to play a more active role in increasing the awareness of their people in protecting wildlife in CarBi II. CarBi I supported 2 volunteer community-level conservation groups, which stimulated some positive changes in attitudes and behavior towards wildlife poaching. This model will be replicated in two provinces with at least ten more groups to be established and supported by the project.
Tackling illegal trade and consumption of bush meat in the region, is also an important added component in responding to the huge demand, driving high levels of snaring which is the greatest threat to the survival of many local species. Activities will include identifying hotspots of wildlife markets and urban restaurants selling bush meat in the two provinces; working with authorities to strengthen multiple-agency law enforcement collaboration on illegal trade; and cross-border cooperation between Laos and Vietnam, which will also be promoted to amplify this effort.
All of these activities are to support the protection of the rich biodiversity treasures of the region, including enhanced law enforcement in the selected Protected Areas, innovative biodiversity monitoring in the region, and the application of cutting edge management tools for protected areas, building on the strong promise showed during CarBi I.
“Forests cover 58% of total land area in Quang Nam and 70% of this are still primary forests. As a forest, this is a treasure and is one of the most important elements in the biosphere, playing a critical role in socio-economic development to sustain the ecology and environment. CarBi’s efforts in conserving biodiversity and ecosystems are highly appreciated. Looking at the achievements of the project's phase I, I believe phase II will bring positive changes to conservation, as well as contribute to the province’s economic development”, said Mr. Le Minh Hung, Vice Director of Quang Nam’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
“The continued funding from the German Government for CarBi phase II demonstrates that the access of project phase I has been appreciated by donors. Main achievements in the first phase included: (1) the community forest patrol model successfully engaged local people in forest protection and management - this approach helped sustain the project’s achievements; (2) Technical support provided by CarBi has improved capacity of rangers of the Saola Nature Reserve and the Forest Protection Management Boards; (3) the landscape conservation approach has shown great success in protecting biodiversity in the Central Annamites. With these great outcomes, we will continue the effort to achieve CarBi phase II’s goals”, said Mr. Nguyen Dai Anh Tuan, Director of Thua Thien Hue Forest Protection Department.
“A humble appreciation of the trust displayed by the provinces and donors to allow this great family, including the local communities, to convert the great successes of CarBi I into significant impact at scale, through innovative and cutting edge biodiversity conservation interventions planned in phase II”, said Fanie Bekker, the project Director, WWF-Vietnam.
The launching of the project is marked by the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between WWF and the Quang Nam Provincial People’s Committee (PPC) today at a conference promoting the partnership between Quang Nam province and foreign Non-Government Organisations and Partners in Hanoi. The MOU signing with Thua Thien Hue PPC will be conducted during a project inception meeting on the 6th of June 2019.
The project will be implemented over a 5-year period (2019 – 2024) by WWF-Vietnam and Laos, primarily funded by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Conservation and Reactor safety (BMU) of Germany through the German Development Bank (KfW) and WWF. Key partners of the project in Vietnam are the provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Forest Protection Departments, Saola Nature Reserves, Bach Ma National Park and the authorities of participating districts of around 100 villages in two provinces.