VIETNAM’S EMERGING NATIONAL PARKS: WAR, RESOURCE EXPLOITATION, AND RECENT STRUGGLES TO PROTECT BIODIVERSITY

VIETNAM’S EMERGING NATIONAL PARKS:
WAR, RESOURCE EXPLOITATION, AND RECENT STRUGGLES TO PROTECT BIODIVERSITY 
Thomas A. Wikle1  và Nguyen H. Le2 

ABSTRACT
Vietnam had a late start in establishing protected areas and promoting nature-based tourism. Decades of war followed by programs to expand food production and increase exports resulted in significant losses to the country's forested areas. In an effort to reverse impacts of deforestation and protect biodiversity, the Vietnamese government began an aggressive program to expand protected lands that included the designation of 29 national parks between 1986 and 2006. Although effectively stopping most activities destructive to forest lands, the country's new approach to conservation and environmental protection has introduced formidable challenges. For example, conservation policies limiting human impacts within national parks interfered with traditional uses of forests by indigenous groups. In some cases, local residents forcibly resettled to lands outside park boundaries have endured severe economic hardships. Park managers have experienced their own difficulties. Budget constraints and corruption have hampered the enforcement of regulations aimed at illegal logging and poaching while interfering with efforts to provide basic services to visitors. Park resources are also increasingly threatened by economic development projects such as hydroelectric facilities. In this article we examine challenges and opportunities associated with Vietnam's relatively young system of national parks.

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1 Prof. Dr., Geography Department, Oklahoma University, USA
2 Lecturer, Department of Tourism – University of Social Sciences and Humaities – HCMC National Univerity. PhD candidate at Geography Department, Oklahoma University, USA. Email: hainguyen.le@gmail.com
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