Education outreach to halt biodiversity loss and support the sustainable development of communities around Pu Mat National Park, Vietnam

Save Vietnam's Wildlife
Published: 23 June 2022
Last edited: 23 June 2022
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Summary

Indigenous people, local government, wildlife traders, and wildlife consumers all play an important role in the success of conservation goals and strategies around Pu Mat National Park, Nghe An, Vietnam. Local indigenous people are dependent on forest resources and some are also involved in the illegal wildlife trade. To reduce the communities’ adverse impacts on forests, we implemented school programs, community engagement, and behaviour change activities. The program has improved school children's understanding of the importance of Pu Mat National Park and all wildlife within its boundaries. By the end of our project, children were willing to choose jobs that did not impact forests. Local indigenous people were engaged and inspired to stop deforestation; one-third of the working-age people in the villages left the villages to seek employment in factories instead of entering forests and hunting animals, and there was an increase in over 35% of participating stakeholders saying ‘no’ to wildlife consumption.

Classifications

Region
Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Forest ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Theme
Indigenous people
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Sustainable livelihoods
One Health
Neglected tropical diseases, emerging infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance
Challenges
Loss of Biodiversity
Poaching
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Infrastructure development
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of food security
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Lack of technical capacity
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production

Location

Con Cuông, Huyện Con Cuông, Nghệ An, Vietnam
Tam Hợp, Huyện Quỳ Hợp, Nghệ An, Vietnam
Anh Sơn, Huyện Anh Sơn, Nghệ An, Vietnam

Challenges

Many ecosystems in Indochina are facing an extinction crisis. A wide range of populations of endemic and keystone species are declining due to the illegal wildlife trade.

  • The problem is more challenging when the illegal wildlife trade involves local people, who are often impoverished ethnic minorities
  • Since national parks still allow local people to enter forests and collect non-timber products in Vietnam, this could cause severe damage to biodiversity and threaten the existence of wild animals when done for commercial purposes.
  • Local people go into forests to set up traps and snares indiscriminately, whereby any species trapped can be taken and sold.
  • Many local people originally lived inside the forest. Voluntary relocation policies of the Vietnamese government convinced many communities to live outside of the forest; however, they are still largely depending on forest resources
  • The main consumers of wildlife are often wealthy and high-status individuals, including government officials.

Beneficiaries

Local people

Local authorities (Provincial/District People’s Committee; Provincial/District Forest Protection Department)

National park officials and management board

Business sector e.g., restaurants

Wildlife in Pu Mat National Park

How do the building blocks interact?

Human activities are the main threat to wildlife in Vietnam, and their impacts often stem from the lack of awareness, knowledge, and negative attitudes towards wildlife. With our education outreach programs, SVW targeted multiple stakeholders from different sectors of the public. Our programs were designed based on the specific needs of each targeted group, and also on the conservation requirements of our key species. Engaging stakeholders with a needs assessment identifies what they respond best to, and follow up interventions exploit those responses to custom-tailor behavioural change activities. 


Children are encouraged to take suitable actions to protect the wildlife they love, promising a future generation in the buffer zones with positive attitudes and behaviours towards wildlife. Local communities, in the future, will be provided with alternative livelihoods or be introduced to more labour options to reduce their negative impacts on natural resources. Last but not least, behaviour change programs reduce the demand for wildlife products.

Impacts

School Program

  • After the program, 92.13% of the students surveyed correctly answered the question about knowledge of wildlife

  • 98% of the club students expressed a choice to not participate in jobs that depend on Pu Mat forests such as logging, forest products, and hunting when they grow up

  • 90.38% of the students surveyed were made aware of the activities that they could participate it protect Pu Mat forests after the program

Community Engagement Program

  • One-third of working-age people left the villages where our community engagement workshops took place to seek employment after the Lunar New Year 2019, as the result of strengthening law enforcement and community education workshops.

  • Several large billboards, together with our information toolkits, were reported to help the local Forest Protection Department of Pu Mat National Park increase people’s awareness of wildlife conservation needs and forestry law.

Behaviour changes

  • Participants willing to avoid consuming any wild meat products increased by 36%

  • After the intervention was implemented, an increasing number of people disapproved of wild meat consumption

  • Following the intervention, participants believed that fewer people in Vietnam consumed wild meat and that society was more disapproving of wild meat consumption

  • Wild meat was rated as more likely to cause illness following the intervention than non-wild meat compared to before the intervention

    Story

    CC-BY-NC

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been unable to organise assemblies at schools for our annual conservation event. We came up with multiple backup plans, including a board game called “The Way Home” and a writing contest.
    Our board game “The Way Home” aims to promote creativity, and interactivity and is hoped to help children have fun while still getting to know useful information about the nature and wildlife of Pu Mat. The game takes students on the journeys of Pangolin, Otter, Saola and Elephant through dangerous traps of hunters in the forest to return home safely. The advantage of the game is that teachers can reuse it many times, for many students of different cohorts. The game received a lot of appreciation from students and teachers. After first playing the game, a student shared with us: “This is the first time that my friends and I got to play a game about wild animals. I really like this game because it looks beautiful, and has a lot of information about nature and wildlife that I can learn from.”


    The writing contest that we organised has exceeded our expectations, as roughly a month after launching the contest, we received over 1.000 entries - one-fifth of the total students in the buffer zone of Pu Mat National Park. It was such an incredible outcome for us, as it proved that our program has been far-reaching in the communities surrounding Pu Mat National Park. 

    Contributed by

    mai.tt_41878's picture

    Thi Mai Trinh Save Vietnam's Wildlife

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    Save Vietnam's Wildlife