With an environment favorable for the conservation of such marine species as sea turtle, dolphin and dugong, Con Dao mangrove forest has been recognised as a Ramsar site of the world.
The Ramsar Convention Secretariat has recognized Con Dao National Park in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province as one of the 2,203 wetlands of international importance. This is the sixth wetland area [of Vietnam to be named a Ramsar site] , and the first marine Ramsar site of Vietnam.
According to naturalengland.org, Ramsar sites are named after the city of Ramsar in Iran. It was here in 1971 that an international treaty on the protection and preservation of wetlands was signed.
Wetlands are defined as areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.
Ramsar sites may also incorporate riparian (banks of a stream, river, pond or watercourse) and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands.
According to haivenu-vietnam.com, the Con Dao National Park was established in 1977, but protection extended only to the flora and fauna on land. The region was given protected status in 1984 and was made a national park in 1993. The park now covers fourteen of the sixteen islands and their surrounding marine areas.
The forest cover on the islands is dense: a sizable proportion is in pristine condition, particularly the humid hill forest growing above 500m above sea level. Over a thousand hectares of Con Dao National Park’s coral reefs survive in the shallow waters—a stark contrast to other areas of Vietnam that have low coral cover as a result of overexploitation, destructive fishing, and sedimentation.
According to condaoresort.com, in 1998, the park was extended to include 14,000ha of sea together with an additional 20,500ha marine buffer zone. The Con Dao National Park officially covers 45,000ha, encompassing beautiful beaches and forests. It is home to 882 floral species, 135 species of animals, and more than 1,300 species of marine creatures.
The national park is characterised by a diverse ecosystem. Many species of coral and especially the sea turtle are found here.
In 2006, a delegation of UNESCO Vietnam representatives surveyed the area and concluded that the park is eligible to be a natural-cultural mixture world heritage site.The Vietnamese government is preparing the necessary documents to submit to UNESCO soon.
Con Dao’s environmental significance is recognized internationally and is included in the list of “Areas of highest regional priority” in The World Bank Global System of Marine Protected Areas. The entire marine area is rich in biodiversity: over 1,300 species of sea animals have already been identified.
The ecosystems on Con Dao are favourable habitats for rare species such as the Hawksbill, Green Turtles & Dugong, the strange creatures popularly known as ‘sea cows’ and believed to be the source of the ‘mermaid’ legends from their habit of sunbathing on rocks .
Prior to Con Dao’s recognition as a Ramsar site, five other sites in Vietnam had been named to the Ramsar list of wetlands. They include Tram Chim National Park (Dong Thap province), Mui Ca Mau National Park (Ca Mau Province), Xuan Thuy National Park (Nam Dinh Province), Bau Sau wetland (Dong Nai Province) and Ba Be National Park (Bac Kan Province).
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