Rich Diversity under threat
Viet Nam is one of the most biologically diverse countries in Southeast Asia. Viet Nam is home to 275 species of mammals, 800 species of birds, 180 species of reptiles, 80 species of amphibians, 2,470 species of fish, 5,500 species of insects and 12,000 plant species (of which only 7,000 have been identified). Ten per cent of the world’s mammal, bird and fish species live here and more than 40 per cent of local plant species are believed to exist nowhere else in the world.
The main threats to Viet Nam’s biodiversity are overexploitation of forests, shifting agricultural cultivation, the loss of arable land, water pollution, degradation of coastal areas, and demands made on farmers by the transition to a market economy. Rapid population growth and intense agricultural development are also increasing threats. With an increasing population, and fast-growing economy, huge infrastructure projects like dams and highways will further endanger Viet Nam’s rich bio-diversity without proper planning and management. The biggest challenge for Viet Nam is to recognize its precious biodiversity as an asset, and balance development with conservation.
UNDP: Biodiversity for development
The poor in Viet Nam, especially in rural areas, depend on biodiversity for food, fuel, shelter, medicines and livelihoods. Through capacity development, knowledge management, policy advice and advocacy, UNDP is committed to helping Viet Nam reduce poverty and increase development, while protecting its natural resources. As 2015 nears, the ultimate aim is for Viet Nam to fulfil the promise set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): "To reverse effectively the current trends in the loss of environmental resources at both global and national levels by 2015."
To this end, UNDP has teamed with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the European Union to support a variety of small local projects to promote forest and wetlands conservation, plant biodiversity, sustainable use of native plants, ecosystem preservation and environmental education. These projects aim to empower local people with a conservation mindset, and develop programmes that meld conservation with economic development.UNDP also runs larger programmes aimed at developing both government and citizen capacity to protect and sustainably use some of Viet Nam’s greatest natural resources. Conservation and sustainability will be a key focus, as UNDP launches new projects to maintain and protect the marine and coastal biodiversity of the Con Dao island region and to link two nature reserves to better conserve the forest in a single habitat.