Stop building, demolish buildings on Sơn Trà Nature Reserve: experts

July 17, 2017 - 07:00

Nearly 200 scientists, biologists and conservationists all agreed to reserve top priority on biodiversity protection and stop construction any buildings on the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve of Sơn Trà Peninsula.

A corner of the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve. — VNS Photo Lê Phước Chín
Viet Nam News

ĐÀ NẴNG — Nearly 200 scientists, biologists and conservationists, unanimously have agreed that the construction of all buildings on the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve should be stopped immediately.

The consensus was reached at a scientific conference on the conservation and sustainable development of ecological systems on the Sơn Trà Peninsula, held in Đà Nẵng on Saturday.

The conference saw 11 reports and research papers submitted on biodiversity in the reserve as well as ideas and proposals for its sustainable development.

The scientists also agreed to petition the PM for stopping construction of new buildings on and reviewing tourism plans for the reserve.

The conference followed up on concerns voiced by the public as well as scientists when the Việt Nam National Tourism Administration announced a plan to “develop”  the reserve.

The reserve, which shrank from 4,400ha to 2,500ha to accommodate resorts and hotels between 1977 and 2014, would have to give up another 1,056ha more for the new plan, that plans 1,600 luxury hotel rooms by 2030.

Of 25 hotels and resorts on the Sơn Trà Mountain that have been approved by the city, 18 are operating or under construction.

“The development of resorts and hotels as well as traffic routes, has interrupted the movement of wild species including the endangered Red-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus) living in the reserve,” said Dr Hà Thăng Long, head of the representative office of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in Việt Nam.

The Sơn Trà Nature Reserve is home to the endangered Red-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus).— Photo courtesy GreenViet

Director of the Southern Institute of Ecology, Lưu Hồng Trường, said the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve, 10km away from Đà Nẵng, was really unique in Việt Nam and the world, with its biodiversity ranging from primary forests to ocean with more than 1,000 plants and 370 animal species.

Dr Nguyễn Xuân Hòa of the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute said 42 per cent of coral reefs in the reserve had disappeared in the past decade (from 80.9ha in 2006 to 46.9ha in 2016) in sea area off Đà Nẵng due to construction projects, pollution and over-fishing.

Hòa said coral reefs in the north of Sơn Trà peninsula had been almost entirely destroyed and 9ha of seabed badly damaged.

According to the latest report from the centre for biodiversity research and conservation (GreenViet), more than 237 herds of red-shanked douc langurs, comprising over 1,300 individuals, are living in the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve.

It said the development of buildings and poor control of tourism in the reserve would damage the ecological system which is an oxygen supplier for 4.3 million people each day.

Sơn Trà Mountain seen from Mỹ Khê beach. — VNS Photo Công Thành

Special regime

Chairman of the Đà Nẵng City Tourism Association, Huỳnh Tấn Vinh, who has sent a petition to Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc asking for changes to the Sơn Trà Master Plan, said the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve was precious not only for Đà Nẵng, but the whole of Việt Nam.

He said it must be strictly protected with a special regime involving esponsible agencies and managers.

“We should protect the reserve before targeting tourism. The city can maintain the reserve as a site for tourists interested in exploring primary nature,” Vinh said.

“The city can build hotels and resorts in the downtown and coastal areas, but not in the reserve, please,” he pleaded.

Vinh said Đà Nẵng could allow the operation of already hotels and resorts already built, but a moratorium was needed on new projects in the reserve.

Dr Nguyễn Mạnh Hà with Việt Nam National Committee for Man and Biosphere (MAB), said part of the Sơn Trà Nature (2,591ha) can combine with 2,269ha of the Nam Hải Vân protective forest to form a biosphere reserve.

Meanwhile, Nguyễn Chí Thành, vice chairman of Việt Nam Wetlands Association, said the current management overlap regarding control of Sơn Trà Nature Reserve must be removed.

Nguyễn Đức Tú of IUCN Việt Nam said the organisation had sent a letter to Prime Minister regarding its concerns about the tourism plans for the Sơn Trà Reserve.

A National Assembly Deputy, Trương Trọng Nghĩa, also said that all illegal constructions in the reserve should be demolished.

Last week, soil erosion caused by an illegally constructed villa polluted the Tiên Sa beach, and observers said a larger of the Đà Nẵng beach is likely to suffer similar pollution. — VNS