IUCN has clearly expressed its viewpoint that UNESCO should not grant the “world’s natural heritage” title to the national park. As an advisor, the IUCN’s recommendation would be considered by UNESCO before it makes final decision.
Jake Brunner, the IUCN Program Coordinator, in an interview given to Dien dan Dau tu, said IUCN suggests not to recognize the Cat Tien National Park as a world’s natural heritage, because the biodiversity value of the national park does not meet the requirements set on a world’s heritage. Besides, there also exists the danger from the projected hydropower plant dams.
The report of the UNESCO’s World’s Heritage Committee showed that Vietnam needs to speed up the measures to tighten the control and fortify the battles against the dangers from hydropower plants, stone exploitation, uncontrolled tourism, and wildlife poaching and trafficking.
The IUCN coordinator commented that if the Vietnamese efforts to conserve the wildlife could have shown their effects over the last 10 years, and if there was a living population of rhinos at the national park, the files about the Cat Tien National Park would be more convincing in the eyes of UNESCO.
He commented that the stories about the Cat Tien National Park and other sanctuaries in Vietnam showed the failure of Vietnam in protecting wild animals.
He said he personally has seen only one successful case of the wildlife protection in the Van Long sanctuary, which witnesses the active participation of the non-governmental organizations.
When asked to make comments about the UNESCO’s recommendation that Vietnam should better protect the titles granted by the international community, the expert said the government of Vietnam shows its high interest in international titles, but it has not paid appropriate attention to promote the effectiveness of the global conservation value management and protection mechanism.
He is the author of the report about the biodiversity conservation in Vietnam released in March 2012 titled “the perfect storm.” The report wrote that Vietnam’s wildlife’s in particular faces a perfect storm that has resulted in a three pronged assault.
The expert said the story about the “perfect storm” was inspired by what is happening in Cat Tien. The rhino population, in fact, had disappeared for a long time, even before the last rhino in Cat Tien was shot dead.
The “perfect storm,” according to Jake Brunner, has been caused by the three factors, namely the Vietnamese policy to prioritize the economic growth pursued by the Vietnamese government over the last two decades; its heavy reliance on farm produce exports, which has led to the lack of the control over the natural ecosystem; and the habit of Vietnamese of using wildlife as food.
He has warned that Vietnam now has to pay a heavy price for its ineffective conservation work carried out over the last 10-20 years. Meanwhile, other wild animals, like sao la, may get extinct in 10 or 15 years.
The expert, in the interview, highly appreciated the decision of the Vietnamese agencies to dismiss two leaders of the national parks recently. However, he said Vietnam would still need a revolution in the management over the sanctuaries and in the fight against the criminals.