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      Biosphere Reserve Information

Viet Nam


  General Description   Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve, an archipelago in northern Vietnam, which is adjacent to the Ha Long Bay World Heritage site, is internationally important for its limestone karst geomorphology and one of the best examples in the world of a fengcong and fenglin karst landscape invaded by the sea. The 366 limestone islands contain landforms, cave and cave deposits that provide evidence of a long history of erosion and landscape evolution. Many of the small islands rise steeply or vertically from the shallow marine waters and are the distinguishing feature of the region. Most of the bigger islands are covered by evergreen tropical monsoon forest. The largest island of the archipelago has a surface of 285 km2 and includes the Cat Ba National Park. It is one of only two protected areas in Vietnam that include both a marine and a terrestrial component. Cat Ba encompasses a mosaic of land cover types derived from human uses such as bushes and woodland, limestone karst, limestone forest, agricultural areas, bamboo forest, mangrove, and sea grass beds. The archipelago is of global importance due to the high number of endemic species. The golden-headed langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus) is one example, a species endemic to the Cat Ba Island that is listed as one of the ten rarest primates in the world due to its restricted range and small population size. There are also a number of regionally important habitat types including fringing coral reefs, mangrove forests, sea grass beds, willow swamp forest and tropical limestone forest. Most of the habitats are under severe threat especially due to encroachment.

The majority of the area is sparsely populated with some 5,200 permanent inhabitants concentrated in the south-west of the largest island. There are mainly two ethnic groups, the Kinh and the Chinese-born Vietnamese. A major coastal fishing zone, the area has tremendous potential in agri- and aqua-culture as well as other development opportunities. Cat Ba promotes the development of alternative economic activities such as nature-based tourism, near-shore artisanal fisheries, agriculture and aqua- and mariculture. There are many species that are of economic importance and used for different purposes. The yellow slipper orchid (Paphiopedilum concolor) and Ha Long cycad (Cycas tropophylla) are prized as ornamental plants, the sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) is used to produce mats, and the false orange (Maclura cochinchinensis) is an edible plant. Other species have medicinal properties including the tuber of the sweet dream plant (Stephania rotunda) or the swollen stems of the bone tonic fern (Drynaria bonii). Cat Ba has 42 archaeological sites with findings from the Pleistocene era and relics such as ceramic pieces dating back to the Bac Son culture about 6,000 years ago.
  Major ecosystem type   Tropical humid forest; Wetlands; Mangroves; Coral reefs.
  Major habitats & land cover types   Primary limestone forest including species such as Spondias lakonensis, Milius flipes, Indospermum sp. etc.; Mangrove forest comprised of Rhizophora mucronata, Bruguiera gymnorhiza, Kandelia candel and Aegiceras mafus; Wetlands dominated by Salix tetrasperma; Tidal flats with 75 different species of marine algae; Shallow coastal tropical sea; Coral reefs with 193 coral species; Coastal lagoons with 21 species of marine algae.
  Location   2047'42"N; 10700'38"E
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   26,241
  Core area(s)   8,500 (of which marine: 2,000)
  Buffer zone(s)   7,741 (of which marine: 2,800)
  Transition area(s) when given   10,000 (of which marine: 4,400)
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   -39 to +332
  Year designated   2004
  Administrative authorities   Hai Phong City Peoples Committee, in which the president and other staff of the biosphere reserve will be members.
  Brief description   : The core areas will be restricted to scientific research and monitoring, and recreational activities. One part will be a strictly protected area to allow the endangered golden-headed langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus) population on the island to recover. The buffer zones are aimed at initiating new land tenure systems and experimental alternative income generating schemes to reduce the dependence on forest and marine resources. In the transition areas investigation on collaborative mechanisms for coordinating investment plans of all industrial sectors is of primary concern.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   n.a.
  Biodiversity   n.a.
  Socio-economic   n.a.
  Integrated monitoring   n.a.
  Contact address   Thanh Nguyen Van
Vietnam MAB National Committee, Deputy Chairman of Hai Pong People Committee
Chairman of Management Board, 18 Hoang Van Thu
 Hai Phong City
Viet Nam
  Telephone   (84 313) 842368
  Fax   (84 313) 842368

Last updated: 18/09/2007

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