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Vietnamese farmers volunteer to protect Mekong Delta nature reserve

Sunday, May 05, 2019, 08:04 GMT+7
Vietnamese farmers volunteer to protect Mekong Delta nature reserve
Farmers sit on motor canoes and talk together in Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve in Mekong Delta, southern Vietnam. Photo: Chi Cong / Tuoi Tre

A group of farmers has volunteered to protect a nature reserve area that is considered the lung of the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam over the last five years.

Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve was established at the beginning of 2002 in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang, with the aim of maintaining a natural habitat for several different animal species native to Vietnam.

The reserve, hailed as ‘the lung of Mekong Delta,’ spans 2,800 hectares and is home to over 300 kinds of plants and animals, some of which appear on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Floating down the small canals leading to the center of Lung Ngoc Hoang Reserve by motorized canoes, the main means of transport in the reserve, it’s common to spot a group of farmers happily guarding the forest and working to preserve its delicate ecosystem.

A bird’s eye view of the forest in Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve in Mekong Delta. Photo: Chi Cong / Tuoi Tre
A bird’s eye view of the forest in Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve in Mekong Delta. Photo: Chi Cong / Tuoi Tre

Duong Kha Ly, a 50-year-old senior on the amateur forestry team, said that he began conservation work in 2014 when there was a need of volunteers to protect the woods from intruders. 

It has been a part of his daily life ever since, with Ly having focused his efforts on catching intruders and lumberjacks.

“The forest is our second home, so we try our best to protect it no matter what,” he shared with love and determination.

Another farmer in the group shared that the team’s creativity and teamwork during the last lunar New Year holiday that ended in February successfully led to apprehending intruders who had been burning beehives for honey and illegally fishing. 

Overall, there work has directly caused a 70 percent decrease in intrusion on the reserve.

Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve is an ideal natural habitat for forest bees, which help bring in decent incomes for beekeepers like Nguyen Van Truong, the owner of 20 forest beehives.

Truong shared that beekeepers can make a profit up to VND40 million, or over US$1,700, per harvest, a significant sum in the rural Vietnam.

“We raise bees and collect honey without burning their houses in order to protect ours,” said Truong.

Farmer Nguyen Van Truong holds a forest beehive in Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve in Mekong Delta. Photo: Chi Cong / Tuoi Tre
Farmer Nguyen Van Truong holds a forest beehive in Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve in Mekong Delta. Photo: Chi Cong / Tuoi Tre

Lu Xuan Hoi, the director of Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve, shared that there are many families with low living conditions nearby that turn to illegal hunting and deforestation.

Therefore, he had asked for provincial People’s Committee permission for legal beekeeping to help people sustain their lives while helping to protect the forest.

He also promoted canalization and strict forest patrols, as well as cooperating with families of the amateur forestry team to conserve local biodiversity and prevent forest fires.

“People here set their heart on protecting the lung of the Mekong Delta and they deserve an award for their dedication,” Hoi praised residents of Hau Giang province.

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