Ba Be Lake, the Nation’s Pride

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Meeting the criteria for a Ramsar (a wetland of international importance), Ba Be National Park in Bac Kan Province was globally recognized as the 1,938th Ramsar of the world on February 2, 2011 and the third Ramsar of Vietnam following Xuan Thuy National Park in Nam Dinh Province and Cat Tien National Park in Dong Nai Province.

Sixty eight kilometers northwest from Bac Kan Township and 250km north from Hanoi, Ba Be National Park located on 10,000ha has all the typical characteristics of a northeastern Vietnamese forest surrounded by limestone with Ba Be Lake as the core of the park.

About 150m above sea level, Ba Be Lake is 8km long and 800m wide. This is the only natural mountainous lake in Vietnam. Although the lake was formed through limestone, it is always full of water. Thus, the lake is one of the most unique natural fresh water sites in the world.

The lake has an abundant ecosystem with 160 fish species, many of which are endemic and high in economic value. The lake is also home to many types of water birds. In 2007, scientists discovered the white-eared night heron (gorsachius magnificus) which was thought to be extinct for 25 years. People around the lake live on its rich aquatic treasures. The site is recognized as an Important Bird Area, supporting more than one percent threshold population of the endangered white-eared night heron (Gorsachius magnificus), a species which also has a very restricted habitat range (in semi-tropical regions in China and Himalaya and tropical forests in the Indochinese Peninsula) by Birdlife International. The lake is an important source of water and nutritious food for people living around it. In 1995, Ba Ba Lake was considered as one of 20 freshwater lakes which need be protected at the Meeting on the Freshwater Lakes Conference held in the US. In addition, surveys affirm the unique biodiversity of Ba Be National Park with 1,288 types of vascular plants. Noticeably, it supports a number of globally threatened species such as the endangered burretiodendron hsienmu (a species of flowering plant in the Tiliaceae family) which is considered as an endemic plant in Ba Be Lake and has a habitat restricted to Vietnam and southern China.

In terms of animals, the site includes 553 types of vertebrates with 81 beasts, 332 birds, 48 amphibians and 106 fishes. Many of which are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Book on endangered species such as the lutra lutra, miniopterus schrebersii, belomys pearsonii, trachypithecus francoisi, hemigalus owstoni and gorsachius magnificus.

Ba Be Lake was recognized as one of 68 most important wetlands of high national and international environmental value. The site was approved as one of five wetlands of international importance by the Vietnamese Prime Minister according to Decision 1479/QD-TTg dated October 13, 2008 planning wetland reserves within the country until 2020.

The fact that the Ba Be National Park was recognized as a world Ramsar contributes to heightening the position and Vietnam and highlighting its efforts to realize the Ramsar Convention, and effectively protect wetlands.

In addition, recognition will advertise Ba Be National Park and Bac Kan Province to international tourists. Ba Be, a Vietnamese Ramsar, has become a national pride, but it has laid a responsibility on local authorities to protect and promote this valuable wetland. Countries all respects values endowed by the nature. Having a Ramsar is a national pride. However, people are not fully aware of importance of natural resources and Ramsar. Therefore, the rich natural resources and biodiversity are endangered by the too rapid socioeconomic development.

Source: VEN