The management board of Dong Chau Protective Forest in central Quang Binh province has signed a contract for the Viet Nature Conservation Centre to lease forest land for scientific research and conservation.

Leasing protected forests for scientific research and long-term biodiversity conservation is a pioneering model that is being applied in Vietnam for the first time.

This step is part of a project, planned to last 30 years, titled "Protection of biodiversity and enhancement of ecosystem services of the Dong Chau-Khe Nuoc Trong Forest," which is in Le Thuy district.

Under the contract, the Viet Nature Conservation Centre will lease more than 700ha of lowland broadleaved evergreen forests—Forest Compartment 528 specifically—for 30 years, from 2015 to 2045, at a price of 200,000 VND (9.5 USD) per hectare per year.

Forest Compartment 528 was chosen because it supports moist evergreen forests at low elevations, which is a suitable habitat for Edwards's Pheasant—a critically endangered species endemic to Vietnam that is on the verge of extinction in the wild—and a potentially good site for its reintroduction, if deemed necessary.

For the last three years, the Viet Nature Conservation Centre has conducted biodiversity surveys using camera traps and has recorded 63 species in the forest, many of which are globally endangered or critically endangered. These include saola, pangolin, large-antlered muntjac, red-shanked douc langur, and others.

Director of the management board Pham Duc Hoa said that this was a significant opportunity for both sides to better protect the forests, the living conditions of the endangered species, and the unique biodiversity of the forest, even though only a small-scale contract was signed.-VNA