As construction encroaches on one of Vietnam’s most famous lagoons, environmental experts and concerned locals are speaking up against unsustainable development in the area.
Lap An Lagoon, overlooked by the switchbacks of the Phu Gia Mountain Pass and Bach Ma (White Horse) Mountain, is a 15-square-kilometer body of water contiguous to Lang Co Bay in central Vietnam’s Thua Thien-Hue Province.
The once tranquil lagoon has recently been burdened by the establishment of several eateries and leisure facilities along its waters, leading to construction and the steady demise of the peaceful landscape.
Nguyen Cong Binh, head of a provincial planning and construction agency, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that six of the seven businesses operating on the lagoon had recently been granted licenses.
Before authorities began regulating business on the lagoon, several stilted structures made from planks, corrugated iron, and white-asbestos roofs had been built by local residents.
Authorities saw this as a blot on the local landscape and began enforcing zoning codes, including declaring that all new constructions should be built from concrete and a sewage system should be installed to prevent wastewater from being directly dumped into the lagoon.
|A restaurant above Lap An Lagoon in Thua Thien-Hue Province, central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Now, the area is visited by hundreds of tourists a day during high seasons and a culture of throwing trash directly into the Lap An waters has emerged.
Residents now fear that this disregard for the local environment will come at the expense of the lagoon’s oyster farming industry, the chief source of livelihood for many families in the area thanks to the absence of water-polluting factories.
Nguyen Viet Hung, head of the provincial environmental protection department, said while constructing eateries on the lagoon alters its landscape, it has yet to impact its ecosystem.
Hung cited test results for water samples taken from the lagoon and said they showed no signs of pollution.
But the constructions’ adverse implication for the ecosystem is a foregone conclusion, said Prof. Vo Van Minh – an environmental specialist at the University of Science and Education in Vietnam’s central metropolis of Da Nang.
An environmental impact assessment should consider the accumulative effects of all structures at the lagoon and their socio-economic consequences, he said.
“I don’t know how these environmental impact assessments were actually made, but to all outward appearances the construction is causing big concerns,” he elaborated.
Locals’ interests should be taken into account in construction planning at the beautiful lagoon, he added.
Here are more photos of the structures built on Lap An Lagoon: