Environment program findings from wetlands classification and inventory of wetlands



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MEKONG RIVER COMMISSION – VIETNAM NATIONAL MEKONG COMMTTEE 
ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
FINDINGS FROM WETLANDS CLASSIFICATION AND 
INVENTORY OF WETLANDS/AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM 
 IN THE MEKONG BASIN VIETNAM 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HO CHI MINH CITY, 2003 

 

MEKONG RIVER COMMISSION – VIETNAM NATIONAL MEKONG COMMTTEE 
ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
FINDINGS FROM WETLANDS CLASSIFICATION AND 
INVENTORY OF WETLANDS/AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM 
 IN THE MEKONG BASIN VIETNAM 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
PHAM TRONG THINH 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HO CHI MINH CITY, 2003 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 
INTRODUCTION 13 
1. 
WETLANDS IN THE MEKONG DELTA OF VIETNAM 
14 
1.1
 
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE MEKONG DELTA 
14
 
1.2
 
CLIMATIC CONDITIONS 
14
 
1.3
 
HYDROLOGICAL CONDITION 
15
 
1.3.1 Salt 
control 
works 
15 
1.3.2.   Irrigation and drainage system 
16 
1.3.3 Flood 
control 
system 
16 
1.3.4 Water 
quality 
16 
1.4
 
THE PRINCIPAL SOIL TYPES 
17
 
1.4.1 Acid 
sulfate 
soil 
18 
1.4.2 Saline 
soil 
18 
1.4.3    Alluvial soil group 
18 
1.4.4 Peat 
soil 
19 
1.5
 
LAND USE STATUS IN MEKONG DELTA 
19
 
1.6
 
DOMINANT VEGETATION 
20
 
1.6.1 Mangrove forest 
ecosystem 
20 
1.6.2  Melaleuca  forest ecosystem 
21 
1.7
 
FAUNA 23
 
1.8.
 
VALUES OF WETLANDS 
25
 
1.8.1. Economic values 
25 
1.8.2  Ecological values and function 
25 
1.9.
 
IMPORTANT WETLAND TYPES IN THE MEKONG DELTA 
27
 
1.10 
 
DISTURBANCES AND THREATS 
28
 
2. 
 WETLAND RESEARCH, INVENTORY AND MANAGEMENT 
30 
2.1.
 
THE CONCEPT OF WETLANDS 
30
 

 

2.2.
 
WETLAND INVENTORY 
31
 
2.3
 
WETLAND CLASSIFICATION AND MAPPING 
32
 
2.4
 
SATELLITE IMAGERY, LAND-USE GIS AND AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS 
WHICH HAVE BEEN USED AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL FOR WETLANDS 
RESEARCH AND MANAGEMENT 
35
 
3. 
LAWS AND INSTITUTION FRAMWORK FOR WETLAND MANAGEMENT
 
36 
3.1
 
RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS REFERRED TO WETLAND 
CONSERVATION IN THE MEKONG BASIN VIETNAM 
36
 
3.2.
 
 NATIONAL ADMINISTRATION OF WETLANDS 
38
 
3.3 
NATIONAL SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTES 
40 
3.4. 
 
REGIONAL AND PROVINCIAL INSTITUTIONS 
42
 
3.5.
 
PROVINCIAL AND SITE LEVELS 
46
 
3.6.
 
NONE GOVERNMENT AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS 
46
 
4.  
IMPORTANT WETLAND SITES IN THE MEKONG DELTA 
48 
4.1. 
 
U MINH THUONG NATIONAL PARK 
48
 
4.2
 
TRAM CHIM NATIONAL PARK 
49
 
4.3   
 
LANG SEN NATURE RESERVE 
50
 
4.4
 
THANH PHU NATURE RESERVE 
50
 
4.5
 
TRA SU NATURE RESERVE 
51
 
4.6  
 
TINH DOI FOREST FISH ENTERPRISE 
52
 
4.7 
 
HA TIEN GRASS PLAINS 
52
 
4.8
 
LUNG NGOC HOANG NATURE RESERVE 
53
 
4.9.    VO DOI NATURE RESERVE 
54
 
5. 
REVIEW OF EXISTING DOCUMENTS, PAPERS ON WETLANDS IN 
MEKONG BASIN OF VIETNAM 55 
5.1. 
 
NATIONAL WETLAND CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT 
PROGRAMS  
56
 
5.2.
 
PROTECTING VIETNAM'S COASTAL WETLANDS 
56
 
5.3. 
 
FRAMEWORK FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INCEPTION STAGE OF 
THE "WETLANDS APPROACH" 
57
 
5.4. 
 
LOWER MEKONG BASIN UNDP-GEF DRAFT PROJECT DOCUMENT 
60
 
5.5 
 
FIVE MILLION HECTARES REHABILITATION PROGRAM (5MHRP) 
61
 

 

5.6.
 
SUMMARY OF LATEST DRAFT PAPER OF VIETNAM STRATEGY ON 
WETLAND MANAGEMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 
61
 
5.7. 
 
COASTAL WETLANDS PROTECTION AND DEVELOPMENT, SOUTHERN 
MEKONG DELTA 
63
 
5.8.
 
BIO-DIVERSITY ACTION PLAN OF VIETNAM (BAP) 
63
 
5.9. 
 
HIGH VALUABLE WETLANDS IN VIETNAM 
65
 
5.10. 
 
CONSERVATION OF IMPORTANT WETLANDS IN THE MEKONG DELTA, 
VIETNAM 65
 
5.11 
 
INVENTORY OF WETLANDS IN VIETNAM 
65
 
5.12
 
CHARACTERISTICS OF WETLANDS IN THE MEKONG DELTA AND 
CURRENT LAND USE STATUS 
66
 
5.13  
 
WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT AND WETLAND PROTECTION IN 
THE MEKONG DELTA 
66
 
5.14
 
BRIEFING ON THE INLAND AND COASTAL FISHERY RESOURCES IN 
THE MEKONG DELTA OF VIETNAM 
67
 
5.15. 
 
WETLAND CLASSIFYING AND MAPPING IN THE MEKONG DELTA, 
VIETNAM 67
 
5.16
 
MAPPING OF WETLANDS IN THE MEKONG DELTA 
67
 
5.17. 
 
THE INFORMATION SHEET ON RAMSAR WETLANDS FOR THE TRAM 
CHIM NATIONAL PARK 
68
 
5.18
 
THE INVESTMENT PROJECT FOR MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION OF 
TRAM CHIM WETLAND CRANE NATIONAL PARK 
68
 
5.19
 
THE INVESTMENT PROJECT FOR MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION OF 
THE THANH PHU ESTUARY RESERVE 
68
 
5.20
 
THE INVESTMENT PROJECT FOR MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION OF 
THE LUNG NGOC HOANG WETLAND RESERVE 
69
 
5.21.
 
THE INVESTMENT PROJECT FOR REHABILITATION OF U MINH 
THUONG NATIONAL PARK   
70
 
5.22.
 
WETLAND CLASSIFICATION AND MAPPING OF VIETNAM 
70
 
5.23.  RESTORATION OF WETLANDS IN TRAM CHIM NATURE RESERVE  
71
 
5.24
 
STATUS, BIODIVERSITY AND MANAGEMENT OF THE U MINH 
WETLANDS 72
 
5.25.
 
THE DARWIN MELALEUCA  WETLANDS PROJECT 
72
 
5.26
 
MEASURES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE INLAND 
WETLAND AREA IN THE MEKONG DELTA 
73
 
5.27.
 
MULTI-TAXA BIOTIC INVENTORIES OF THREE UNPROTECTED 
FORESTED ECOSYSTEMS IN VIETNAM 
75
 

 

5.28.
 
SETTING SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION FOR PLANNING WETLAND 
NATURE CONSERVATION IN VIETNAM 
76
 
6. 
CONCLUSION AND FOLLOW UP ACTIVITIES 
77 
TABLES 
Table 1. Some data of Mekong Basin In Vietnam   
13 
Table 2. Land use status in the Mekong river delta, in 1998 
19 
Table 3. Land use planning of the Mekong delta by 2010 
20 
ANNEXES 
 
Annex 
1. Wetland Classification for Wetland Mapping of Vietnam at scale of 
1/1.000.000 
Annex 2.   Important wetland types according to the criteria of EP of MRCS 
Annex 3.  Identifying what agency has information on and/or active in working with 
important wetland types 
Annex 4.  The Ramsar, biodiversity and conservation sites identified within the Mekong 
Basin, Vietnam  
Annex 5.  List of participants in the National Meeting on Inventory of Wetlands/Aquatic 
Ecosystems on 3
rd
 March 2003, Ho Chi Minh City 
Annex 6.  List of peoples contacted 
 
FIGURES 
Figure 1. Wetlands and People in the Mekong delta 
Figure 2. Map of Wetlands in the Mekong delta, 2002 

Figure 3. Variation of Mangrove area in the Mekong Delta since 1950-2002 
20 
Figure 4. Melaleuca swamp forest in the Mekong delta Vietnam 
21 
Figure 5.  Values of Wetlands in the Delta 
26 
Figure 6. Threaten on wetlands in the delta 
30
 
 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
 
We have met many people during the time to carry out our mission. They 
contributed to conservation and sustainable uses of wetland in the Mekong delta 
through their knowledge and experience. The names of many of these people appear 
in annex 5 and 6.  Some papers and documents of them are reviewed in this report; 
we would like to extend our sincere thanks to all of them.  
Particularly, we would like to express our thanks to Mr. Hans Gutman, Mr. Chin 
Samouth, Mr. Meng Monyrak in MRCS; Mr. Nguyen Hong Toan (VNMC 
Secretary General), Mrs. Nguyen Thi Ky Nam (VNMC), Mr. Nguyen Chi Thanh ( 
Director of Sub-FIPI) for their valuable comment and support.   
Our mission was fully funded by Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) in 
Phnom Penh and we would also like to extend our sincere gratitude for MRSC 
support. 
 
 
 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 
The Environment Program has a mission to promote co-operation and collaboration 
among the member states in the use, conservation, management and maintenance of the 
Mekong River Basin’s environmental assets and ecological balance.  
The purpose of Component A2 of the Environment Program - People and Aquatic 
Ecosystems is to provide timely information on trends and changes in the dynamics of 
aquatic habitats to prevent or minimize harmful effects particularly on the rural poor who 
are highly dependant on the Basin’s aquatic productivity.  
A large proportion of the Lower Mekong Basin consists of permanent wetlands, 
lakes and annually inundated areas, comprising several million hectares. They play 
a vital role in the lives of the rural communities. The wetland generates important 
products such as food, firewood, medicines, building materials and water. They also 
perform valuable functions such as food control, nutrient retention, and recharge of 
ground water, water purification and water transport.  
In addition the wetlands have valuable ecosystem attributes such as unique 
biological diversity and cultural heritage. Rural, low-income people have used and 
depended on these wetlands for centuries. It is important to know the extent and 
distribution of the wetlands, finalization of the inventory and take into account the 
values, functions and product of wetlands as well as the social and economic 
valuation. 
In order to compile data on wetland/aquatic ecosystem with particular reference to 
wetland importance, types, functions, values, ecology, threats and economic 
valuation of wetland types, Mekong River Commission Secretariat and Vietnam 
National Mekong Committee assigned Pham Trong Thinh, as a National Wetland 
Expert (NWE), to carry out the task. 
Main Duties and responsibilities of NWE are: 
i.
 
To produce a review of existing information on wetlands in the country with 
particular reference to wetlands within the Mekong River basin.  The review 
should incorporate: 

 
Existing documents from both refereed journals and technical reports to 
government departments and NGO’s. Wherever possible copies of these 
reports should be obtained for inclusion in the MRC document center. 

 
Satellite imagery, land-use GIS and aerial photographs which have been used 
at the national level for wetlands research and management. Copies of 
images should not be obtained but full identification details should be 
provided. 

 
Government agencies involved in wetlands activities and their roles  

 


 
NGO’s and UN organizations conducting wetlands activities, particularly 
activities on inventory, classification and valuation activities, with a list of the 
organizations and the activities being conducted or planned by each. 

 
A list of Ramsar, Biodiversity and conservation sites identified within the 
MRB area of the country. 
ii.
 
After discussion with relevant government agencies and other stakeholders, 
to produce a draft list of the important wetland types that should be given 
priority in inventory and valuation activities. 
iii.
 
To collaborate with the International Wetland Expert to identify core data 
required in wetlands inventories to facilitate the completion of inventory 
activities 
Draft reports of this compiling process have submitted to EP Coordinator and 
wetland officer. On 3
rd
 March 2003, Mekong River Commission Secretariat 
organized the National meeting on inventory of Wetlands/Aquatic ecosystems in 
Victory Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City to review the report.  
This report is finalized on base of all comments of MRCS’s EP Co-coordinator and 
wetland officer and national meeting.   
Total area of Vietnam country is about 329,241 km
2
, the coastline unwinds about 
3,260 km and the sea consists 1,000,000 km
2
. The Mekong Basin of Vietnam is about 
73,255 km
2
 that accommodates about 20 million people. In the wetland context, 
Mekong delta is most important wetland region, It constitute 3,900,000 ha of the 
southern tip of Vietnam. Specific climate of the delta is tropical monsoon. Physical 
environment of the Mekong delta is strongly controlled hydrological regimes of 
Mekong river and by tidal. 
Since 1980s, series of state funded projects on water resource development have 
been implemented in Dong Thap Muoi, Long Xuyen Quadrangle, and west of Hau 
River bringing about new perspective for agricultural development. Water 
resources development works in Mekong delta can be divided in to 3 main groups, 
salt control works, irrigation and drainage system and flood control system. 
The principal soil types in the Mekong Delta are acid sulfate soil (1,600,263 ha), alluvial 
soils (1184857 ha), saline soil (744,547 ha), they are equally about 40.69%, 30%, and 
(18.93%) total area of the delta, respectively. 
In 1998, almost 94% of delta natural area has been utilized. Of which, 73.44% is 
used for agriculture and aquaculture, 7% for forestry, 5.17% for special use, 2.59% 
for residential purpose, unused land is 5.69%, and the rest is rivers and streams, 
canals.  

 

The Mekong delta consists a variety of natural landscapes, ranging from tidal flats, 
sandy ridges and tidal back swamps in the coastal plains, estuaries at river mouths, 
to river flood plains, broad depressions, peat swamps, alluvial levees and terraces 
further inland. They are also fragile to the effects of development processes. 
Mangrove and Melaleuca are the most important wetland ecosystems in the Mekong 
delta. 
The fauna of the delta includes 23 species of mammals, 386 species and subspecies of 
birds, 35 species of reptiles, six species of amphibians and 260 fish species. 
Wetlands are disturbed due to rapid growth in the human population, lacking of adequate 
mechanism for integrated management, alien invasive species, un-sustainable use of 
natural resources, limited resources and impact from upstream constructions.  
Many domestic and overseas research institutions have conducted scientific 
research on the wetlands, and have initiated projects for their exploitation and 
utilization. However, no proper scientific base has ever been established for these 
activities in term of wetland context, owing to the lack of satisfactory basic 
inventories. Those inventories, which have been carried out were not sufficiently 
comprehensive and did not take into account all field of wetland function and 
values.  
Since joining the Ramsar Convention in 1989, the Wetland Ramsar definition has been 
officially used in Vietnam. Since 1990, under framework of the project” Inventory and 
Management of Wetlands in the Lower Mekong Basin”, Vietnamese Wetland Team 
applied wetland international classification (Ramsar, IUCN, MRC) to establish wetland 
maps of the delta and of pilot areas. 
Satellite imagery (Landsat, TM) some time have been used by Sub-FIPI and Care 
international for inventory and monitoring Melaleuca and mangrove, It is 
applicable on large scale survey. Other satellite photos (Eros-A  pan; IKONOS XS; 
IKONOS PAN, etc.,) are advertised, but they are still very expensive so cannot be 
popular used in Vietnam. 
Wetland conservation and management are under responsibility of Ministry of 
Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Ministry of Resources and 
Environment (MOSTE), Ministry of Fishery (MoF). There is no single entity in 
charge of wetland management and conservation.  
Several institutions have been doing research and study in wetlands are Sub-
Institute of Geography (SIG), Sub-Inst for Water Resources Planning (SIWRP), 
Can Tho University; Institute of Tropical Biology (ITB), IUCN; Sub-FIPI; Sub-
NIAPP; RIA-2; SIWRP; SRHMC; UAF, Care International.  
In the national meeting on inventory of wetlands/aquatic ecosystems, 3
rd
 March 
2003, in Victory Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, 5 important wetland types were 
reconfirmed. Those are (i) Seasonally/permanently freshwaters swamp (woodlands 

 
10 
or grasslands), (ii) Mangrove forests (coast or estuary), (iii) Rivers and canals, (iv) 
Permanently/Temporarily flooded grasslands, (v) and Rice fields. What are 
importance of each wetland type are recognized and presented in annex 2.  
Ten wetland sites are very high values of biodiversity in the delta. They are Uminh 
Thuong, Tram Chim and Mui Ca Mau national park; Lang Sen, Thanh Phu Nature 
Reserve, Tra Su Nature Reserve, Tinh Doi Forest Fish Enterprise, Ha Tien Grass 
Plains, Lung Ngoc Hoang Nature Reserve, and Vo Doi Nature Reserve. Major 
information of each wetland site presented in this report 
About 30 documents and papers are reviewed in this report. These materials 
described physical features, environment, resources, management status, on going 
programs or projects of wetland in Mekong delta Vietnam.  
Follow up activities for inventory of wetland/aquatic ecosystem are (i) formulate 
database of wetland on base of available information/data, (ii) classifying and 
mapping of wetland with lasted remote sensing information, (iii) evaluation of the 
values of flood, and (iv) appraisal for Tra Su study site.  
Since 1990, Sub-FIPI used to a co-ordinator for wetland activities; sub-FIPI will 
play this task for Environment Program of MRCS in the next period. 
 

 
11 
LIST OF ABBREVIATION 
5MHRP 
5 Million Hectares Rehabilitation Program 
BDP 
Basin Development Planning 
CRES 
Center For Resources and Environment Study 
CTU 
Can Tho University 
DARD 
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development 
DFMP 
Department of Forest Management and Protection 
DLA 
Department for Land Administration.  
DOSTE 
Department of Science, Technology and Environment  
DOSTE 
Department of Science, Technology and Environment 
DPI 
Department of Planning and Investment 
EP Environmental 
Program 
 
EPA 
Environmental Protection Agency 
FAO 
Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations 
GO’s Government 
Organizations 
ICF 
International Crane Foundation 
IEBR 
Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources 
IUCN 
International Union for Conservation of Nature 
MARD 
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development 
MD Mekong 
delta 
MoF Ministry 
of 
Fishery 
MORE 
Ministry of Resources and Environment 
MOSTE 
Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment 
MRC 
Mekong River Commission 
MRCS 
Mekong River Commission Secretariat 
NEA 
National Environment Agency 
NGO’s Non-Government 
Organizations 
NP National 
Park 
NWT 
National Working Team 
R&D 
Research and Development  
RIA No.2 
Research Institute of Aquaculture No.2 
SFE 
State Forest Enterprise 
Sub-FIPI Sub-Institute 
of 
Forest Inventory and Planning 
Sub-IWRMP 
Sub-Institute of Water Resources Management and Planning 
Sub-NIAPP Sub-National 
Institute 
of 
Agriculture Planning and Projection 
UAF 
University of Agriculture and Forestry 
UNDP 
United Nation Development Program 
VNMRC 
Vietnam National Mekong River Committee 
WB World 
Bank 
WUP Water 
Utilisation 
Planning 
 

 
12 
  
 
Figure 2. Map of Wetlands in Mekong delta Vietnam in 2002 

 
13 

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