Cat Ba National Park in Hai Phong Vietnam
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Cat Ba National Park is located in Hai Phong City, Vietnam. The Site covers the sublime Cat Ba Island which has been attracting visitors. Besides, the neighboring Halong Bay in the west is so famous that brings more and more people to Cat Ba on a regular basis. Together with the magnificent seascape of various islands, the Park owns great biodiversity and is home to some globally endangered species, ensuring that it is a place deserving compliments.

Scientific Information about Cat Ba National Park

  • Cat Ba is located in Cat Hai District, Hai Phong City, Vietnam. The center of the National Park is Cat Ba Island which is 28.500-ha wide and around 20km away to the east of Hai Phong City, and adjacent to the west of the celebrated Halong Bay. The Park also covers several other small islands in the east of the Cat Ba Island. Its map coordinate is 20°44′ – 20°51′ N, 106°58′ – 107°10′ E
  • Just similar to Halong Bay, the dominant spectacle of Cat Ba has the limestone towers poking on the emerald sea. In general, the Park is set on elevations from the sea level to 331m on the top of Cao Vong Mountain.
  • The topography of the Park covers the sophisticated underground water systems that ensure the drainage in the area. The center of the Cat Ba Island is around 5km from the mainland.
  • The Park has an area of 15.200 hectares.
  • Cat Ba National Park in Hai Phong was established in pursuant to Decision No. 79/CT, dated 31 March 1986, of the Chairman of Council of Minister (MARD, 1997). The area mentioned in the Decision was 15.200 hectares, of which 9.800 hectares of Cat Ba Island and some small islands, and 5.400 hectares of the surrounding marine zones.
  • On 28 April 1997, the functionalities and missions of the Cat Ba National Park management board were defined according to Decision No. 694/NN-TCCB/QD. The board included 86 members of staff and 15 security stations which were managed by MARD.
  • In 2002, Hai Phong City People’s Committee proposed Cat Ba as the Biosphere Reserve (Vietnam News 2002, 2003).
  • On 10 July 2003, Cat Ba was recognized as the 3rd Biosphere Reserve in Vietnam by UNESCO.
  • Cat Ba was addressed in the list of Special-use Forest in Vietnam to be established in 2010, prepared by FPD of MARD, with an area of 15.200 hectares (FPD, 2003). This article has not been accepted by the government.
View from Cat Ba National Park over Lan Ha Bay

View from Cat Ba National Park over Lan Ha Bay

Biodiversity, Population, and Conservation Topics in Cat Ba National Park Hai Phong

Cat Ba National Park owns the rich biodiversity with the forest at the mountain foot, forest on the karst mountainside, small freshwater lake, and forest in the freshwater marsh, mangrove forest, sandbank, and coral reef. The dominant type of plantation on Cat Ba Island is the forest on the limestone mountain. However, the forest is being disturbed heavily; many large areas are replaced with the shrub or the vacant space. There were 839 species of vascular plants recorded in the Park, of which 25 species were listed in Vietnam’s Red Book (Anon. 1997).

Due to the isolation from the mainland and high degree of illegal hunting, the diversity of mammal species in Cat Ba National Park Hai Phong is less than other parks. According to Nadler and Ha Thang Long (2000), there were a few mammals in the island namely Naemorhedus sumatraensis, Sus scrofa, and Muntiacus muntjak. More recognizably, the Park shelters the unique white-headed langur Trachypithecus poliocephalus in the world. The detailed studies showed that, between 1999 and 2000, there were around 104 – 135 langurs in the Site, of which 50-70 mature langurs. The limestone habitats in the protected area are very important to a variety of the invertebrates. Based on the study in 19989, there were numerous ideal humid holes in the limestone mountainous areas, which gave the Park a very diverse helix system (Vermulen and Whitten, 1998).

Before 1979, the population in Cat Ba Island was relatively low. But later, a large number of people moved from the mainland to the island. To date, there were around 12.303 people living in the buffer zone and 850 people living inside the Park (Cat Ba National Park management board, 2003). Among these, 70% of the population lived in the Cat Ba town, and most of them lived by fishing, trading, and offering services. People in local villages inside or nearby the Park were farmers who heavily exploited forest products namely timber, wood, honey, frogs, etc.

To conserve biodiversity in the Park, it needs management plans to prevent illegal logging, honey collecting (which often drives to forest fire), and severe hunting. Also, tourism activities need to put under observation so that it will not disturb the wildlife and natural environment.

Monkeys in Cat Ba National Park Vietnam

Monkeys in Cat Ba National Park Vietnam

Tourism in Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba receives a large number of domestic and international tourists on an annual basis. The majority of these guests visit the Park by trekking and boating which leave the very exciting experiences. Trekking in Cat Ba Island is a trendy activity that young trekkers and thrill-seekers will surely appreciate. The spacious greenness and beautiful sightseeing will offer you nothing but peace of mind, health, and love of life.

The best time to have a green journey to Cat Ba is from April to October when mountain climbing and biodiversity discovery become best. The romantic spectacle in almost every corner of the Park might make some climbers “wordless” while the others might think that they must enjoy the trip to the fullest and will come back to this destination someday together with their loved ones.

Biking on Cat Ba Island

Biking on Cat Ba Island

It often takes the 5-hour drive from Hanoi to Cat Ba. Most trekkers choose the pristine 8km trail amid the lush trees and mountains. There will be some challenging points during the trail such as the marshes, steep rocky mountain, etc., but excitement is certain. After you come over the challenges, you’ll be rewarded with the beautiful forest scenery, sublime Ao Ech (the lake of frogs), far-off view of Viet Hai fishing village, etc. It’s time to reward yourself with a nature-friendly escape.

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