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 Plain of Reeds, Viet nam
 
Main threats to biodiversity in the Plain of Reeds

A brief description of the threats to the biodiversity of the Plain of Reeds is presented below in order of threats to systems, habitats and species. An analysis of the root causes is presented in Table 1.
Modification of water regime in the Mekong Delta. There has been significant development of the Mekong Delta over the past 40 years including canal construction and conversion of wetlands to agricultural land. This has changed the pattern of hydrology significantly, which will continue with the further plans for infrastructure development. In Tram Chim the water regime is maintained through artificial control of the water levels.
Inappropriate fire control measures. Canals were constructed within the site management plots to prevent fires from spreading in Tram Chim. This activity severely damaged and fragmented crucial habitats. The park management authorities have now stopped this activity. However, damage to habitat components is continuing through another fire control measure - prolonged inundation through the maintenance of artificially high water levels. This, in the longer term, will destroy the habitats requiring seasonal exposure to air, e.g. grasslands, particularly the Eleocharis beds the Sarus Cranes depend on.
Fires in Tram Chim National Park, both those lit on purpose and those started accidentally, are a major concern for park authorities. Although fire is important in maintaining habitats, excessive fire will degrade wetland habitats significantly.
Pollution from agro-chemicals. Local farmers spray chemicals and fertilizers up to seven times per crop. With 2-3 crops per year, there is significant potential for run-off in to the conservation sites. Herbicides may alter the wetland vegetation, pesticides may build up to toxic levels in higher order species, and fertilizers may cause eutrophication.
Acidification of water bodies. Acidification of the soils in the Plain of Reeds is severe. Acidity measurements in the main river channels has reached a pH of 3.5. Acid is released from these soils due to the conversion of surrounding wetlands to agricultural land and through the digging of canals.
Illegal encroachment and harvesting of wetland products. There are reportedly over 400 incursions a month into Tram Chim National Park to collect fish, turtles and firewood. In addition waterbirds are poisoned and snakes and monitor lizards are collected. These are consumed locally or sold commercially. Since time is at a premium to avoid detection by the authorities.

Table 1: Threats for the wetlands of the Plain of Reeds: Viet Nam

ThreatImmediate causeRoot cause
Modification of water regime in the Mekong DeltaInfrastructure and water control measures in the Delta• Unco-ordinated sectoral approaches to wetland planning at national and regional level
Inappropriate fire prevention measuresDigging of canals for the management of water and fire• Inadequate information and awareness base on which resource use decisions are made
• Unco-ordinated sectoral approaches to wetland planning at national and regional level
Fires in Tram Chim National ParkLack of access to fish resources and management policies and strategies in the Park
• Unco-ordinated sectoral approaches to wetland planning at national and regional level
• Lack of options over use of resources by local people
Damage to existing habitat components at Tram Chim through prolonged inundation Inappropriate management of hydrological regime• Unco-ordinated sectoral approaches to the management of wetlands
Pollution from Agro-chemicalsExtensive use of fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural production• Unco-ordinated sectoral approaches to wetland planning at national and regional level
• Inadequate information and awareness base on which to base wetland policy, planning and management decisions.
• Inadequate human and technical resources available for wetland biodiversity conservation
Encroachment: Illegal harvesting and/or over harvesting of natural resources by local people:
e.g. wood, fish, wildlife
Lack of access to natural resources, e.g. wood and wetland products in an agricultural landscape• Unco-ordinated sectoral approaches to wetland planning at national and regional level
• Weak policy framework and unsupportive economic environment for wetland biodiversity conservation and sustainable use
• Lack of options over use of resources by local people
 Lack of understanding of the importance of biodiversity conservation• Inadequate information and awareness base on which resource use decisions are made
 Lack of trained staff for enforcement• Inadequate information and awareness base on which resource use decisions are made
 Lack of economic benefits returning to local stakeholders • Weak policy framework and unsupportive economic environment for wetland biodiversity conservation and sustainable use
• Inadequate information and awareness base on which to base wetland policy, planning and management decisions.
 Lack of integrated approach to the management of the site• Inadequate information and awareness base on which to base wetland policy, planning and management decisions.
• Inadequate human and technical resources available for wetland biodiversity conservation
Acid released into water bodiesDigging of canals and conversion of wetlands to agriculture• Inadequate information and awareness base on which resource use decisions are made
• Unco-ordinated sectoral approaches to wetland planning at national and regional level