U.S., Vietnamese Science Agencies Partner to Protect Biodiversity in Vietnam

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USGS and the Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Agency partner to protect the biodiversity of Vietnam.

The United States and Vietnam have begun a partnership to protect the biodiversity of Vietnam. The partnership builds upon collaborative scientific research and information sharing between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Agency.

Today’s partnership was formalized at a signing ceremony during the World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii with the USGS representing the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Agency representing the Vietnam Environment Administration, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.  

Vietnam is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, and that diversity is under great pressure from development, population growth, and climate change. This partnership is a multi-year project to increase documentation of Vietnam’s unique biodiversity and to increase legal protection of that biodiversity.

“The USGS is honored to contribute our body of knowledge and scientific expertise to this partnership between the U.S. and Vietnam,” said USGS associate director Kevin Gallagher, “This project is a successful outgrowth of the ever-increasing scientific and technical cooperation between our two nations,” said Gallagher.

Among Vietnam’s biodiversity are more than 13,000 species of land-based plants, more than 10,000 species of land-based animals, 39 types of wetlands, 20 marine ecosystems, and more than 11,000 marine species. One of the most important ecosystems for Vietnam is the Mekong River, the largest river in Southeast Asia, and one of the longest rivers in the world.

Dr. Pham Anh Cuong from Vietnam’s Biodiversity Conservation Agency commented, “The biodiversity of Vietnam is a national treasure that we seek to help protect for future generations. Teaming with USGS helps bring extra hands to the important tasks of documenting and protecting our species and habitats.”

With its emphasis on scientist-to-scientist exchanges, this partnership falls under the President’s Pivot to Asia strategy, which prioritizes strengthening cooperation among our partners in the region, leveraging their significant and growing capabilities to build a network of like-minded states that sustains and strengthens a rules-based regional order and addresses regional and global challenges.

The Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Agency has been tasked with reviewing the 2008 Biodiversity Law, passed by the National Assembly of Vietnam when Vietnam became a member country of the Convention on Biological Diversity. As part of the review, the Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Agency will suggest amendments to the law to help Vietnam follow its 2013 National Biodiversity Strategy to 2020/Vision to 2030, and its 2014 Master Plan on Biodiversity Conservation.

USGS will work with BCA and a consortium of biologists, lawyers and law professors, information technology scientists, a sociologist, and an economist to conduct research to amend law.

The USGS has decades of experience, as do a number of the consortium partners, in studying the natural resources of the region. For example, the USGS has worked with Vietnam for many years on the Mekong River as part of the USGS Delta Research and Global Observation Network, or DRAGON, program. As part of that program, USGS and Vietnamese scientists traveled to the Mekong and the Mississippi Rivers to trade expertise and experience.

In addition to the USGS, the consortium includes the American Museum of Natural History, the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, FISHBIO, Inc., Lewis and Clark University Law School, Nevada Division of Wildlife, and the Solicitors Office of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The two agencies will build upon the Letter of Intent to complete and sign a Project Annex that will last for the duration of the Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Agency’s review period, after which time the Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Agency will submit its recommendations to the National Assembly of Vietnam.