29 October 2021 - Source: VIetnam News - Kon Ka Kinh National Park, located in the Kon Ha Nung Plateau Biosphere Reserve, the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, is being protected thanks to the engagement of the local ethnic minority community.

Twenty-six communities of the Bahnar ethnic group have been assigned the task of protecting nearly 18,000ha of forest in the park.

Earlier this year, villagers and forest rangers at the Kon Ka Kinh National Park have conducted 76 inspections and discovered hundreds of wild animal traps and incidents of deforestation.

Kon Ka Kinh National Park has a natural area of almost 42,000ha, covering three districts of Dak Doa, Mang Yang and Kbang in Gia Lai Province.

Le Thanh Dao, head of Forest Protection Station No 1, said forest rangers shared information with the local communities on species banned from being hunted and the benefits from forest protection activities.

Forest rangers and village elders tried to persuade those found setting traps or cutting down trees to stop for the sake of the forest. Gradually, they have achieved success in this work, he said.

Twice a week, De Kjieng villagers of Mang Yang District send a team of five to six people to inspect the national park with forest rangers.

The patrol in the forest, which is more than 10km from the village, often lasts for two days and one night. On top of food and drink, villagers bring along sticks to navigate through the brush and detect traps to rescue wild animals.

While picking bamboo shoots in the forest, many De Kjieng villagers discovered strangers or heard sounds of saws, and reported these claims to local authorities.

Thanks to the local community's participation, the forest is now fully protected.

A Mum, a member of the community-based forest protection team, said many years ago, villagers used to cut down trees to build houses on stilts, burn forests for cultivation or hunt wild animals for food or sale. Since they were assigned forest protection tasks, the villagers have abandoned these habits that harm the forest.

Kon Ka Kinh National Park is home to more than 1,750 species of plants, accounting for 14 per cent of the national flora. There are 87 species of mammals including 34 species listed in Vietnam's Red Book, along with more than 300 species of birds and 77 species of reptiles.

The protection and conservation of biodiversity in the forest is the top concern and foremost priority of both rangers, and now the local communities.

Le Van Vinh, deputy director of Kon Ka Kinh National Park, said there were only 75 national park staff while the forest area assigned to be managed is nearly 42,000ha. Local communities living in the buffer zone are considered assistants of the park's management board.

In the future, the unit will focus on implementing a project to support local people in growing medicinal herbs and farming, with an aim to help communities stabilise their livelihoods, improve incomes, and protect the forest, he said.