Authorities in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong are coming under fire for turning a blind eye as unlicensed tourism establishments illegally set up shop in protected areas in Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park.
Located approximately 50 kilometers northwest of Da Lat, the capital of Lam Dong, Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park spans 70,038 hectares, placing it firmly in Vietnam’s top five largest national parks.
The national park is the core zone of the UNESCO-recognized Langbiang Biosphere Reserve.
Despite the important role it plays in maintaining ecological balance in Lam Dong, authorities in the province do not appear to be concerned with the blatant illicit encroachment of local businesses looking to set up shop in the park’s 112A sub-zone in Lac Duong Town of the namesake district.
Over the past few years, an area which had previously only housed temporary structures built by local farmers has ballooned into a full-on settlement with unlawfully constructed eateries and tourist accommodations, according to Cong An Nhan Dan (People’s Police), a news outlet managed by the Ministry of Public Security.
The major draw for these businesses is the hope of cashing in on the influx of visitors to the park’s DT722 Street, a thoroughfare lined with tourist attractions which runs through the national park and has served as a major contributor to the province’s tourism boom.
As a result of the development, large swaths of forest in Bidoup-Nui Ba are now indistinguishable from a common residential zone.
|A hotel and restaurant sit on a 2,300 square meter plot of protected forest land in Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park. Photo: Phan Tan Dat / Tuoi Tre|
It is worth mentioning that these newly-built establishments are not just temporary buildings.
Several of the new constructions were clearly built with massive investments, including the leveling of a huge slope.
Yet even as the encroachment continues in broad daylight, authorities have yet to step in and protect the park.
Le Chi Quang Minh, deputy chairman of Lac Duong District, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that local authorities are aware of the issues and they have “issued a series of documents requesting coordination from the Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park to handle them,” adding that the national park has yet to act on the requests.
There are currently more than ten areas totaling 41,000 square meters of land, including 36,000 square meters of forest, being illegally encroached upon, according to Minh.
Likewise, the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said the responsibility to resolve the issues falls on the Bidoup-Nui Ba management board.
“We will ask relevant agencies to reclaim the land and replant forests,” said a leader from the provincial rural development department.