Son Tra’s status quo must not be altered: experts

The ecosystem of Son Tra peninsula in central Da Nang City is invaluable and should not be altered by human activities, experts said

An unfinished tourist resort has been left to gather dust for years in Son Tra peninsula, Da Nang City.

The ecosystem of Son Tra peninsula in central Da Nang City is invaluable and should not be altered by human activities, experts said at a seminar in Da Nang on Saturday.

Scientists and experts gathered in Da Nang on Saturday for a seminar on “Conservation and Sustainable Development of Son Tra Peninsula’s Ecosystem,” co-hosted by the Southern Institute of Ecology and Da Nang Tourism Association.

Latest updates on the status quo of Son Tra’s ecosystem as well as the future of the peninsula were discusses during the seminar.

An invaluable ecosystem

“Son Tra is a sanctuary for scientists,” asserted Dr. Luu Hong Truong, director of the Southern Institute of Ecology, at Saturday’s seminar.

According to Truong, the ecosystem of Son Tra is unique and invaluable in that it is home to over 1,000 species of plants, 21 of which are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Four animal species found on the peninsula are also listed in the inventory, Truong said.

“Son Tra is an inseparable part of Da Nang as a city worth living in,” he stressed.

In March, scientists discovered in Son Tra a species of bird that had previously been known to only inhabit China, according to Dr. Le Khac Quyet, an expert in primates research and conservation.

Quyet added that as many as six species of primates are known to be living on the peninsula.

Between 700 and 1,300 endangered red-shanked doucs are scattered around Son Tra, from along its coast to the peninsula’s highest point of Ban Co Peak, according to Dr. Ha Thang Long, chairman of GreenViet, a non-governmental organization working to promote biodiversity conservation in Vietnam.

“The construction of roads connecting to tourist resorts in Son Tra has separated the local doucs population into two groups inhabiting the east and west sides of the peninsula,” Long said. “A greenbelt of 200 meters was also destroyed in the process. The sights of doucs swinging from power lines have been spotted by locals recently.”

'To suffer for Son Tra is an honor'

Huynh Tan Vinh, chairman of Da Nang Tourism Association, stressed the importance of leaving the status quo of Son Tra intact, without commencing new constructions on the peninsula.

Vinh proposed offering tours with minimal impacts to the local ecosystem such as coral diving, trekking, fishing, and sightseeing.

In addition, he said, a fund should be maintained through collecting ticket fees and voluntary donations to aid conservation efforts in Son Tra.

Last month, Vinh was almost penalized for his straightforward opinion on a plan to develop a national tourism zone on Son Tra, which he said violated separate laws on forest protection, biodiversity and natural resources.

According to the Department of Biodiversity Conservation under Vietnam Environment Administration, the foremost priority for Son Tra is to protect and conserve its biodiversity, in accordance with the Law on Biodiversity Conservation.

Truong Trong Nghia, a member of Vietnam’s lawmaking National Assembly representing constituents in Ho Chi Minh City, underlined that the current way of exploiting tourism in Son Tra must not continue if the peninsula was to survive.

“Illegal projects must be eliminated, while those that are legal but no longer suitable in the current context must be reconsidered for the common good,” Nghia said. “We must make businesses understand that to suffer [economic losses] for Son Tra is an honor.”

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