A social foundation has been named after Howart Limbert, who has led a team of the British Cave Research Association to explore caves in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park , the central province of Quang Binh , for the past two decades.

Nguyen Chau A, Director of the Oxalis Travel Company Limited, on April 10 said the Limbert Foundation will grant scholarships for students in Minh Hoa district to encourage them studying and working for Quang Binh’s tourism sector.

It will also invite tourism experts to train local tourism staff and build community-based tourism programmes.

Limbert and his wife will act as advisors having the decisive say in scholarship recipients and community-based tourism programmes, A said.

As the organisation’s founder, Oxalis plans to spend 200 million VND (over 9,500 USD) in 2014 on helping two local households provide homestay services and presenting scholarships to 10 students in Tan Hoa commune, Minh Hoa district.

The foundation will also offer a training course on food safety for residents living by tourism in the park this year.

Covering an area of 85,754ha, the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was recognised as a World Natural Heritage Site on geological and geomorphological criteria by UNESCO in 2003.

Its core zone subject to strict protection is located in Bo Trach and Minh Hoa districts, while the buffer zone covering 20,000ha spreads out over 13 communes in three districts - Bo Trach, Minh Hoa and Quang Ninh.

The property contains and protects over 104 km of caves and underground rivers, making it one of the most outstanding limestone karst ecosystems in the world. The karst formation has evolved since the Palaeozoic period (some 400 million years ago) and as such is the oldest major karst area in Asia .

The park is also home to a large number of faunal and floral species, including threatened species such as tiger, Asiatic black bear, Asian elephant, giant muntjac, Asian wild dog and the recently discovered sao la.-VNA