Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is located in Quang Binh Province, in the central-north of Vietnam. The Site has long been famous for wonderful cave systems that surprise experts and explorers who come to cherish natural wonders in the complex. It preserves admirable grottoes of stalagmites and stalactites, rich biodiversity of plants and animals that keep attracting visitors.
Scientific Information about Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
- The Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is located in the west of Bo Trach District, nearby the Vietnam-Lao land borders. Its location is on the extended limestone mountain areas which are the largest of the Indochina region. Its map coordinate is 17°21′-17°39’N, 105°57′-106°24’E
- The topography of this Site is dominated by limestone ridges with the steep cliff of 400m high. Scattered among the mountains are narrow valleys and some volcanic areas. Due to the limestone systems, the hydrography of the region is quite complicated, with a few lakes and rivers with frequent water. The main rivers in the region are Chay, Son, and Trooc Rivers. The water supply of these rivers are the underground springs found in the En, Vom, Toi, and Phong Nha caves.
- Phong Nha-Ke Bang has an area of 85.754 hectares.
- Phong Nha was addressed in the list of Special-use Forest in Vietnam according to Decision No. 194/CT, dated 09 August 1986, of the Chairman of Council of Ministers, with an area of 5.000 hectares, and as a historical and cultural site (MARD, 1997). The main purpose of Phong Nha was not to protect biodiversity but protect the cave systems in the region.
- In 1992, the investment project for Phong Nha nature reserve was prepared, with an area of 41.132 hectares (Anon. 1992). According to the project, the management board was established by Quang Binh Provincial People’s Committee, dated on 03 December 1993, in pursuant to Decision No. 964/QD-UB (Quang Binh FPD, 2000).
- In 1998, Phong Nha Cave was proposed to be a UNESCO World Heritage. Together with the diverse biodiversity, Phong Nha-Ke Bang owned special systems of caves, limestone landscape, and historical geology. In 2003, Phong Nha-Ke Bang in Quang Binh was inscribed as the 5th UNESCO World Heritage in Vietnam.
- In 1999, Forest Inventory and Planning Institute built a new investment plan for Phong Nha, which proposed the extension of the Park toward the northwest and transferred it from the nature reserve to the National Park.
- Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was established according to Decision No. 189/2001/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister dated 12 November 2001, with a total area of 85.754 hectares, including 64.894-ha strict protection area, 17.449-ha forest rehabilitation area, and 3.411-ha administrative and service area. Based on the decision, the management board was made to be the national park management board, and this was approved by Decision No. 24/QD-UB dated 20 March 2002. The board had 217 members of staff and 08 security stations managed by Quang Binh Provincial People’s Committee (Nguyen Tan Hiep, Director of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, 2003).
Biodiversity and Conservation Topics in Phong Nha-Ke Bang Quang Binh Vietnam
Three relatively detailed surveys made in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park were Le Xuan Canh et al. (1997), Kouznetsov et al. (1999) and Timmins et al. (1999). Results of the three surveys associated with other studies were proofs of the high biodiversity of flora and fauna, including the special species in the limestone mountainous regions of the Central Vietnam and Laos. The topographical characteristics of the region limited the external intrusion, resulting in the largely-forested limestone mountains, except the steep montane surfaces. The most popular type of plantation is the forest on the karst. Besides, there exist areas of the low montane evergreen forest distributed in the non-limestone regions, within the valleys bordered by the karst.
The flora and fauna of Phong Nha-Ke Bang are diverse. It reported the presence of the globally threatened species of Stachyris herbeti ((Eames et al. 1995), Trachypithecus francoisi hatinhensis, T. ebenus, Hemigalus owstoni, Naemorhedus sumatraensis, Nesolagus timminsi (Surridge and Timmins 1999, Timmins et al. 1999). Regarding the avifauna, Timmins et al. 1999 studied some globally endangered species of bird in the region namely Rheinardia ocellata, Arborophila charltonii, Picus rabieri, and Jabouilleia danjoui. The Site has important functions in bird conservations. Both Phong Nha and Ke Bang Mountain were recognized as one of 64 significant bird sanctuaries in Vietnam (Tordoff 2002).
At present, Phong Nha-Ke Bang is facing the illegal commercial hunting which is the major threat. Hunting occurs almost every corner in the Park, and the most serious place is within the one-day trekking range. The trading of wild animals, especially the primates, decrease their number seriously. The use of trap also threatens other large mammals and birds. What’s more, illegal logging in the region is severe which demands the strong management plans.
Culture and Tourism in Phong Nha-Ke Bang
The destination is located next to Hin Namno National Protected Area of Laos and connected to this area by Ke Bang karst mountain (Minh Hoa District). The three regions have the identical karst landscape and their biodiversity conservation are closely connected. Without a doubt, the Site offers enthralling sightseeing of the long cave systems, of which the center is Phong Nha Cave having the underground water, the entrance of 30m wide and 18m high, and the length up to 1.5km (Limbert et al. 1990). Together with Phong Nha, there are other 16 caves discovered that all attract an average of 700 tourists per day. This is also home to the Ruc and Arem ethnic groups who preserve the original lifestyle in the villages.
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is called the “sublime or paradisiac haven” or the “underground royal palace.” It is the very beautiful picture of Nature that is blessed to Quang Binh Vietnam. The best time to travel to Phong Nha-Ke Bang is from April to August when it’s ideal for trekking and cave discovery. Make sure to marvel at Phong Nha Cave, Tien Son Cave, Thien Duong Cave, Chay River – Toi Cave (the Dark Cave), En Cave, Tu Lan Cave, etc. Take time listening to the songs of the birds and the waterfalls that combine the beautiful melody.
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