Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve (also named Lam Vien Can Gio) is located in Ho Chi Minh City. This is one of the most popular weekend venues that attract Saigonese and tourists. With the rich mangrove ecosystem, Can Gio serves as the “green lungs” that support busting Saigon and becomes a green Site for people to unwind and enjoy natural beauty after hard-working weekdays.
Scientific Information about Can Gio Biosphere Reserve
- Can Gio Biosphere Reserve is located in Can Gio District (the old Duyen Hai District), 40km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City. This area is the intertidal mudflat in the estuaries bordered with the Vam Co, Saigon, and Dong Nai Rivers.
- Its topography is low, swampy, and changeable. It has many canals and tributaries.
- It has an area of 75.740 hectares.
- Years ago, the entire area of Can Gio was the natural mangrove forest but it was heavily destroyed by the herbicide during the American wartime.
- Between 1986 and 1990, HCM City People’s Committee gave land to 23 forestry stations and farms (ADB 1999). Based on Decision No. 173/CT dated 29 May 1991 of the Prime Minister, Can Gio was made the coastal forest protection area.
- 21 January 2000, Can Gio was inscribed as Vietnam’s first Biosphere Reserve with an area of 75.740 hectares by UNESCO (ADB 1999).
- 30 August 2000, the management board of Can Gio Biosphere Reserve in HCM City was established according to Decision No. 5902/QD-UB of HCM City People’s Committee. The board included 07 members of staff.
Biology, Local Population, and Conservation Topics in Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve
The major habitat in Can Gio is the mangrove forest, including 7.000ha natural mangrove forest and 20.000 cultivated mangrove (ADB 1999). The species of Rhizophora apiculate is mostly cultivated in the area. Besides, there are small sectors of R. mucronata. The grassland is dominated by Halophyla sp., Halodule sp., and Thalassia sp. (ADB 1999).
Can Gio Biosphere Reserve had a total of 18 mollusk species, 27 crustacean species, 45 fish species, and 3 amphibian species. The intertidal mudflats and sandbanks are important habitats for birds. The recorded bird species in this area include Tringa glareola, T. totanus, Actitis hypoleucos, Pluvialis squatarola, Charadrius mongolus, and Himantopus himantopus. Along with that, the globally threatened species of birds found in Can Gio could be Tringa guttifer, Limnodromus semipalmatus, Pelecanus philippensis, and Mycteria leucocephala (Tordoff et al. 2002.). The presence of the rare and endangered bird species made Can Gio one of 36 most important bird sanctuaries in Vietnam. Other fauna species found in this Site include saltwater crocodile (Crocodilus porosus), king cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah), fishing cat (Felis viverrina), and spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis).
Can Gio mangrove forest is dealing with conservation matters due to the major threats of illegal logging for wood and timber, and transferring mangrove land for aquaculture business. Besides, trapping aquatic species by using destructive methods, oil pollution, and wastes from the cities are all threats to the biodiversity in Can Gio (ADB, 1999). Furthermore, forest cultivation in floodplain disturbs the migratory water birds in the region, causing the rare birds to lose the ideal habitats (Tordoff 2002).
Regarding the socio-economic values, no communities live in the core area and buffer zone of Can Gio, except the forest securities and their households, forestry staff, and some fishermen who use traditional shrimp trapping methods in the canals within the mangrove areas. There are around 70,000 people living in the transitional zone of the Biosphere Reserve, including the Vietnamese, and other minorities of the Chinese and Khmer communities. The locals’ livelihood mostly depends on agriculture, fishing, aquaculture, salt-pan, and tourism.
With proximity to Ho Chi Minh City, this Site has great potentials to develop tourism, public education, scientific studies, and training. Along with that, Can Gio mangrove forest supports the coastal stabilization, protects against erosion, limit oil pollution, and reduce influence from the storm. Also, Can Gio is a standard instance for the projects to restore the mangrove forest in Vietnam.
Tourism in Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve Vietnam
Recognized by UNESCO since 2000, Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve Vietnam has been an important wildlife sanctuary that attracts visitors who are interested in the wetland bio-system featured with mangrove and rare species. Around 40km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Can Gio is feasible to access all year round, and there are tours to this mangrove forest on a daily basis.
Visitors will be glad to see a diversity of mangrove plant species, mangrove-linked fish and shellfish species, and many other ecological characteristics that are hard to find in the cities. There, you come to know the diverse habitats such as mangroves, salt marshes, wetlands, mudflats, and seagrasses. In fact, this Site functions as the “green lungs” that absorb carbon dioxide and other polluting agents of the busy Ho Chi Minh City. At weekend, the Saigonese and guests in Saigon are likely to drive to Can Gio and enjoy the fresh beauty of the mangrove forest. Most of them believe that this is a great way to unwind and escape from the city bustle.
Ecotourism in Can Gio can always please visitors who are happy to take pictures of the mangrove forest, cherish the green charm, and enjoy nature-friendly activities such as catching fish in a traditional way. In particular, make sure you discover the landscape of mangrove forest and watch authentic wildlife in the area of the Biosphere Reserve. You can try a boat trip or trek through the forest, and then get hands-on experiences in fishing crab, watching birds, rowing, using fishnets, etc. The motorboat trip across the mangrove lines is so exciting that enables you to relax amid the peaceful and pristine scenery. Often, Vietnam tours to Can Gio has time to play at the 30/4 Beach which is pristine and transparent. Along the way, you can stop by any thatched-roof house for cups of water coconut which are juicy and fresh. Let’s make a team to travel to Can Gio in Ho Chi Minh City!
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