Vietnam Botanical Conservation Program
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Report from Hanoi (July 2002)
The first field training course, organized by the MBG Vietnam Botanical Conservation Program in Na Hang Protected Area (300 km north of Hanoi), Tuyen Quang Province from 15-30 June 2002, has just been completed. There was a great demand for the training course but only a few selected trainees could be admitted because of space limitations and logistical considerations. The 16 participants in this training course were representatives from five national parks, five protected areas, five research institutions, and one from the Forest Protection Department. More than half of trainees are less than 30 years old. All of them received bachelor degrees from schools of higher education, mainly from the Forestry Institute, and others from Vietnam National University. During the two weeks of the training course, they became familiar with techniques in collecting plant specimens and in using Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, maps, and compasses to record locality data. They learned techniques in conducting a biodiversity inventory in one ecological plot in the valley forest . They were introduced to medicinal and useful plants and learned ethnobotanical methods such as interviewing local healers. Since this was a scientific training course, they learned how to collect and analyze the data and write reports. A technical seminar was conducted during the last day where they gave professional (Powerpoint) presentations.
Henk van der Werff and Bruce Gray (from CSIRO, Australia) arrived in Hanoi on June 27. Still exhausted from the long flight, they were whisked off to Na Hang and were able to attend the technical seminar and closing ceremony on June 29. Henk was one of the guests of honor who distributed the certificates to the participants. Bruce gave a demonstration on pulling down a limb 30 m high on a tree, using a slingshot armed with lead sinker first attached to a fish line to catapult the sinker and then to a strong rope to pull down the limb. Such method is useful in collecting the tall laurel trees (Lauraceae) that Henk is particularly interested in collecting. Henk and Bruce will do fieldwork in Vietnam for one month until July 27.
The next training course on "Plant Identification Techniques" and "Herbarium Management" will be held in mid-August 2002 at the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources and the Vietnam National University in Hanoi.
Report from Hanoi (May 2002)
Last month, a 3-day training workshop was held on April 4-6, 2002 at the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources of the National Center of Science and Technology in Hanoi. The theme of the workshop focused on "The Role of Botanical Research and Training in Biodiversity Conservation in Vietnam." This workshop formally launched the "training pyramid" scheme of the MBG Integrated Botanical Research and Training Program that is currently funded by the Luce Foundation. A total of 76 participants attended this workshop, including 18 speakers, 41 representatives from 5 national parks and 4 protected areas, representatives from academic and government institutions, conservation organizations, and journalists from local newspapers. Participants were awarded certificates of attendance at the conclusion of the workshop. A practical application of the lessons learned from the workshop was a Saturday field trip to Cuc Phuong National Park, where the participants observed ongoing conservation projects at the park. A copy of the group photo and the speakers’ abstracts are available through Ihsan Al-Shehbaz.
Botanical training will begin in earnest in May 2002. Participants in the recently concluded workshop, especially the conservation officers and park rangers, will be recruited to take part in practical training activities in the field. The training program will begin focusing on the limestone areas of the north and northwest since these areas are under extreme pressure by detrimental human activity and these vegetation types have affinities to extinct vegetation types in southern China and may represent the last remaining habitats for the flora and endemic vegetation types. Fieldwork will emphasize the collection of well-preserved and pressed specimens with associated accurate locality information verified by Global Positioning System (GPS).
Garden visitors and collectors expected to arrive in June are Ihsan Al-Shehbaz (June 9-12) and Henk van der Werff (June 26-August 1), together with Bruce Gray, Henk’s colleague from CSIRO (Australia). Henk and Bruce will have the opportunity to participate in the training program.
Greetings from Hanoi (February 2002)
Preparations for Tet, the Lunar New Year, are getting to fever-pitch, just like last minute Christmas shopping. Tet is also a festival of flowers: traditional pink peach and yellow apricot blossoms adorn each household. Today – Feb. 4th – (seven days before Tet), I joined Ms. Thao, the housekeeper, in burning the effigy of "Tao Quan," the three spirits of the hearth found in the kitchen of every home. The smoke will send the spirits to the heavens to report on the past year's events to the Jade Emperor. Hopefully I will receive a favorable report (I have not been naughty, but rather nice, in the past few days since I arrived in Vietnam on January 25) and this A-okay report will ensure my good luck in the coming year. On Wednesday, February 6, at 10 AM, the new MBG program office on the seventh (lucky number) floor in the IEBR (Institute for Ecology and Biological Resources) building was inaugurated officially by the IEBR Director, Vu Quang Con. The IEBR is our primary collaborating institution and visa sponsor in Vietnam. Although the office is small (15 feet wide, 20 feet long, and 15 feet high), it reflects the strong commitment and support of the IEBR to the Garden's Vietnam Program. In addition, the office is provided with a computer with free Internet connection and a kitchen sink with running water to wash tea cups. I have to constantly drink tea to fight off the cold. I would like to mention that schools, homes, and offices in Hanoi, generally, do not have heat during the winter time. At 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit), the damp and cold weather can bring on a chill to the bones. I wear my winter coat all day in both home and office. On Thursday, February 7, there was a dinner/meeting with our collaborators from the IEBR, Institute of Material Medica, Forest Inventory and Planning Institute, and Vietnam National University. In this meeting, I presented the objectives of the Luce Foundation project and outlined the strategies toward the successful implementation of these objectives.
To reach me by phone at the IEBR office, dial 011-84-4-756-6921. The fax number is 011-84-4-756-6644.
--Best wishes from Hanoi, Jack Regalado