Hotspot for primate diversity

Vietnam is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth, with a huge variety of distinctive and fascinating wildlife.

Situated at the point where Southeast Asia’s tropical ecosystems meet the temperate ecosystems of mainland Asia, and stretching over 1,650 km from north to south, the country boasts a varied landscape that encompasses cool mountain ecosystems in the Himalayan foothills to the north, tropical forests, striking karst (limestone) peaks and much more besides. This diversity of ecosystems gives rise to a rich variety of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

More than 13,200 terrestrial plant species and around 10,000 animal species have been recorded in Vietnam, while over 3,000 aquatic species have been identified within its wetland areas.

The country also has an extremely long coastline extending over 3,260 km and encompassing thousands of islands, including the famous Ha Long Bay – a World Heritage site whose limestone pillars, arches and caves typify Southeast Asia’s striking karst landscapes. Over 20 ecosystem types and more than 11,000 marine species are found in Vietnam’s coastal waters.

Perhaps most striking of all of Vietnam’s natural treasures, however, are its primates.

25 primate species can be found here, of which 11 are critically endangered and five are endemic to Vietnam; several more are found only in Indochina. It is undoubtedly one of the most important countries in the world for primate conservation.

This astonishing biodiversity is coming under intense pressure, however. Its overexploited primary forests are declining and becoming severely fragmented. For many species, including Vietnam’s primates, this means that populations are being pushed into ever smaller and more isolated islands of habitat.

There is an urgent need, therefore, to protect remaining populations and to work with government partners and civil society to better manage protected areas and other sites of high biodiversity importance.

Vietnam facts
Country in Asia-Pacific

Size (land & water):

331,210 km²

Population (2016 est.):

95,261,021

GDP per capita (2016 est.):

US$6,400

Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China, Laos, Cambodia, and the South China Sea.

47%

of Vietnam is forested, but only 1.8% (5,700 km2 ) of this is primary forest.

50-60

The number of Cat Ba langurs estimated to remain in the wild.

Our work to protect Vietnam’s biodiversity

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been working in Vietnam for over 20 years, and in this time has been at the forefront of saving the unique and gravely threatened wildlife, much of which is teetering on the verge of global extinction.

Over the last two decades our work has ranged from supporting ecotourism initiatives, supporting better protected area management and piloting REDD+ and Payment for Ecosystem Services approaches to sustainable management.

We are best known, however, for our leading role in protecting the country’s critically endangered primates. We support monitoring of primate populations, and education initiatives to engage people in conservation, as well as driving better management, patrolling and enforcement within protected areas designated for primate conservation. The latter includes the use of highly effective community conservation teams.

More broadly, we are working with our government partners to improve the planning and operations of larger, national protected areas. This includes boosting the technical capacity of park authorities as well as improving monitoring of biodiversity and putting in place more effective law enforcement within the protected areas. We also work with communities surrounding these high-priority sites to develop improved and sustainable livelihoods.

“We are at a critical point in Vietnam – we have a window of maybe 10-15 years in which to avert a mass primate extinction, the likes of which has never been seen in human history. This is the moment we need to take action.”

Josh KempinskiCountry Director, FFI Vietnam Country Programme, Asia-Pacific