Vietnam&#039s eco warriors combat to shield character reserve from mass tourism

DANANG, Vietnam: A 10-moment travel from the city, the forested coastal mountains of Son Tra character reserve are throbbing with wildlife.

It is property to a lot more than 1,000 species of crops and approximately 400 animals and its most well known inhabitants are the critically endangered crimson-shanked douc, also identified as the “costumed monkey” because of its hanging colors.

A 2017 study counted a lot more than 1,300 crimson-shanked douc langurs in the Son Tra Peninsula, one particular of the major populations in the earth, claims Danang-centered GreenViet Biodiversity Conservation Centre. (Photo: Le Phuoc Chin)

The creatures’ everyday antics are an obsession for retired educator-turned newbie photographer Le Phuoc Chin, who has acquired the nickname “magic eye” for his images of the peninsula and its hanging apes.

Retired educator-turned amatuer wildlife photographer Le Phuoc Chin can be located on the winding roadways of Son Tra on any given morning, rain or shine. (Photo: Do Khuong Duy)

Chin is one particular of a group of Son Tra lovers who take a look at the peninsula with their cameras each and every day. (Photo: Tan Qiuyi)

The moniker was rightly given to one particular of the character reserve’s most loyal guardians Chin was the initially to location a thing amiss on Son Tra back again in March. “It was on one particular of my normal visits when I uncovered a development web page,” he advised Channel NewsAsia. “It was a large mess.”

(Photo: Tan Qiuyi)


Chin’s images of the development is effective, posted on Facebook, were being the start off of a public outcry that at some point get rid of light-weight on a national tourism masterplan to change Son Tra into a luxury tourism hub by 2020.

Get the job done on the deforested development web page Chin uncovered in March has since been suspended. (Photo: Do Khuong Duy)

The Son Tra peninsula is also property to the 5-star InterContinental vacation resort, location of the recent APEC leaders’ retreat. The tourism masterplan authorized expansion of the existing luxury vacation resort. (Photo: Tan Qiuyi)

Much more than a dozen new tourism jobs, which include thousands of hotel rooms and villas, were being authorized for development in the reserve. If carried out, critics and environmentalists said, hordes of visitors would come into a sensitive ecosystem and the crimson-shanked douc’s habitat could shrink by approximately half.

Many thanks, Facebook

The similar thirty day period, Danang’s tourism affiliation led an on the internet petition and despatched it to Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, contacting for a prevent to the program.

The petition garnered a lot more than 10,000 signatures in a matter of weeks, prompting the central governing administration to stage in. Building was suspended and authorities were being requested to carry out a complete evaluation.

Danang tourism affiliation chairman Huynh Tan Vinh determined to produce a petition to the Prime Minister soon after his daughter advised him to save Son Tra for her and foreseeable future generations. (Photo: Do Khuong Duy)

Affiliation chairman Huynh Tan Vinh credits public assist but singles out one particular person who has in no way stepped foot on Son Tra for the campaign’s accomplishment. 

“Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook,” said Mr Vinh. “Five years back, if we despatched a petition to the Prime Minister, that’ll be it,” but right now social media has turn out to be “the voice and energy of society”, not quickly disregarded by a governing administration that has publicly committed to being facilitating and responsive, he additional.


Neighborhood attempts all around environmental will cause are not new in Vietnam.

On the flipside of rapid financial and tourism development, worsening air pollution stages and a spate of industrial incidents have heightened environmental awareness throughout the region.

Activists are even now functioning to prevent a multi-million greenback cable auto from being developed in the world’s major cave Son Doong, located in Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang Countrywide Park, a UNESCO Planet Heritage web page.

The Son Tra marketing campaign is exclusive because activists are not driving it by yourself, said Dr Ha Thang Long, head of community environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO), GreenViet. Citizens, academics, NGOs and most importantly, corporations labored with each other on the similar marketing campaign information that Son Tra belonged to everyone.

“We labored with resorts, restaurants, promotion businesses, all kinds of corporations that want to preserve Son Tra as it is for their prolonged-time period sustainable organization,” he said.

Long run ON Hold

The Danang People’s Committee did not reply to Channel NewsAsia’s email query about the foreseeable future of Son Tra.

Effects of the governing administration evaluation are envisioned some time in early 2018.

In the meantime, it is a levels of competition amongst large corporations who want to build luxury resorts and compact players who are pushing for eco-tourism corporations like character walks and hikes, said Dr Long.

He sees the non permanent enhancement halt as a golden option for compact corporations to stage up and persuade authorities of their environmental and financial value.

The foreseeable future of Son Tra is on hold, but there is careful optimism that the governing administration is equally anxious about enhancement and its environmental effects.

Dr Nguyen Phu Thai, director of the Danang Institute for Socio-Financial Progress. (Photo: Do Khuong Duy)

“No matter how poorly you want tourism and financial enhancement, we have to conserve the beauty and surroundings of Son Tra,” said Dr Nguyen Phu Thai, director of the Danang Institute for Socio-Financial Progress, a governing administration think tank. 

“It’s not just the pride of Danang, it is the pride of Vietnam.”


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