A staff member at Con Dao National Park measures the size of a turtle before releasing it into the sea.
(Photo: VNA)

Ba Ria – Vung Tau (VNS/VNA) - Keeping the Con Dao National Park clean and conserving biodiversity is the top priority for its management board.

The area in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, has suffered pollution from aqua-exploitation activities that saw waste released into the sea threatening biodiversity.

The rapid development of tourism on the island in recent years has also seen an increase in waste.

Deputy director of the national park Tran Dinh Hue said in the past six months the park’s forest management division had conversed with thousands of residents and tourists to raise public awareness of environmental issues.

Hue said his staff had monitored seawater every two weeks over the past six months measuring temperatures, pH levels as well as collecting 854 cubic metres of garbage.

The management board plans to work with relevant agencies to raise public awareness and strictly deal with violations.

Climate change and human activities are putting coral reefs under great pressure, leading to a decline in coverage and coral bleaching.

Therefore, the management of the park had co-operated with Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography to recover and develop the coral population over an area of 40 hectares since 2018.

The project runs from 2018 to 2020 with an estimated budget of 1.4 billion VND (60,000 USD) in three areas of Con Dao where coral reefs have been slow to recover: Dat Doc, Hon Tai and Bai Canh. It aims to transplant 2,500 branches of coral over a total area of 3ha.

The first phase of the project focuses on offering training to the local community to improve their awareness of marine protection and coral recovery techniques; recovering 1ha of coral with more than 1,500 coral branches transplanted. In the second phase, another 2ha of corals will be recovered.

Deputy head of the park’s forest management division Nguyen Van Tra said illegal hunting, killing and selling meat and turtle eggs was still a problem.

In an attempt to fix the situation, the park deployed a project to save turtle eggs and baby turtles to recover the turtle population.

The project aims to strengthen protection of mother turtles, hatchlings and eggs on spawning grounds, minimising the disadvantages of natural and human influences, their reproductive capacity in conservation stations and some monitoring sites, and studying the ecological characteristics to better preserve them.

As a result, 257 turtles were chipped when they came to nesting sites to give birth for the first time, a total of 107,102 turtle eggs saw 81,137 baby turtles were released into the sea last year.

Previously, it has collaborated with the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Vietnam to organise a volunteer programme in marine turtle conservation since 2014.

By 2018, there were 180 volunteers together with the forest ranger force to monitor and safely remove 128,629 eggs and release 62,217 baby turtles into the sea.

Con Dao National Park covers a total area of 19,998 ha (including 16 islands and islets) comprising of forest and forestland of 5,998 ha, biodiversity marine protected area of 14,000 ha. The management also covers 20,500 ha of marine buffer area. — VNS/VNA