Vietnamese environmental award for the floating school of Ha Long Bay

The Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) has awarded Ha Long Bay Management Department a national environmental award for its innovative floating school, the EcoBoat that educates children about nature while exploring the region’s spectacular caves, mangroves and marine reserve.

“The school has an emphasis on discovery, analysis and discussions. There are also games and lively debates. The lessons show the importance of balancing the nation’s economic development with the need to preserve the natural environment and biological diversity”, said Nguyen Bich Ha, from Fauna & Flora International’s Vietnam Conservation Support Programme.

Students next to the EcoBoat. Credit: Michael Haynes.

The award recognises the department’s effective environmental management of Ha Long Bay, as well as its unique and highly successful model of interactive environmental education through the EcoBoat Programme which was jointly established by the Ha Long Bay Management Department and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in 2005.

During day trips on the EcoBoat, students explore the spectacular natural landscapes of Ha Long Bay with visits to limestone caves, mangrove forests, karst islands and coral-sand beaches, where they learn about the biological significance of the marine reserve.

Ha Long Bay. Credit Rachel Austin.

The programme includes trips to the floating fishing villages where young people can interview local fishermen and women to learn about their fishing practices and lifestyle.

The award was presented at the National Environmental Workshop in Hanoi at the end of last year, which brought together 1000 national and international delegates from government, industry, embassies, scientific institutions, educational institutions and the media.

At the workshop, delegates reviewed Vietnam’s environmental protection over the last five years, awarded organisations and individuals that had made significant contributions to conservation and identified key priorities and solutions for tackling Vietnam’s environmental challenges over the next five years.