Community vital for peat progress

HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam should boost its peat land management involving community participation, scientists said at a meeting held yesterday in Ha Noi.

The advisers, coming from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, also recommended Viet Nam to educate the public on the value of peat land and give training courses to peat land managers.

The Viet Nam Environment Administration organised the meeting as part of the project entitled Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peat Land forests in Southeast Asia which is directed by the ASEAN Secretariat.

The project focuses on strengthening institutional capacity and frameworks; reducing the rate of degradation; demonstrating integrated management and rehabilitation at target sites; engaging the private sector and local communities in sustainable peat land management.

Speaking at the meeting, deputy head of the administration Nguyen The Dong said key factors in the sustainable management of peat land in U Minh Thuong and U Minh Ha national parks were the consensus of local residents and co-operation of the parks’ board of management.

Environment ministry statistics show that Viet Nam had about 36,000ha of peat land spread over many localities but mainly in the Mekong Delta’s U Minh Forest with an estimated area of 24,000ha.

According to the Ministry of Environment, peat land had been reduced considerably due to forest fires and exploitation. A forest fire in U Minh Thuong National Park in 2002 had reduced the thickness of many peat land areas by half.

Peat land has high economic value thanks to its forests and it contains important and diversified plants which are important in the ecosystem.

It does not only help to reduce floods during the wet season and maintain river flows during the dry season but also plays an important role in controlling global climate. — VNS