Cat Ba National Park
4.05.01 (Indochinese Rainforest)
II (National Park)
Situated in Ha Long Bay, about 30km east of Hai Phong City and Port, and about 8km off the coast. 2042'-2054'N, 10654'-10709'E
DATE AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT
Established on 31 March 1986 under Council of Minister's Decision 79-CT.
27,700ha (Vo Quy, pers. comm., 1988). According to Scott (1989) the park covers 26,300ha, comprising 17,300ha on the main island and 9,000ha of the adjacent inshore waters.
Sea level to 331m
The archipelago consists of one main island, covering 345sq.km, and 366 smaller ones. There is a great diversity of landscapes and ecosystems, including offshore coral reefs, sandy beaches, mangrove forest, freshwater swamp forest, small freshwater lakes and forested hills. The scenery is spectacular in the karst limestone areas on the main island where there are numerous waterfalls, caves and grottos. The principal streams on the island are the Thung Luong, Treo Com, Hoi Trung Trang and Viet Hai. Most streams are seasonal, flowing only after tropical storms, but some of the streams in the higher valleys are perennial or almost so. Most of the rain water flows into caves and grottos, and follows underground streams to the sea. There is, therefore, often an acute shortage of water during the dry season. There are several small lakes and ponds in the hills, the largest of which is Ech Lake, a permanent waterbody with an area of 3ha and a depth of about 50m. Much of the main island is between 50m and 200m above sea level; the highest peaks rise to 331m (Cao Vong) and 302m (Hien Hoa) and only 10% of the island is below 50m in elevation. However, some places in the interior of the main island, such as Ang Tom in Viet Hai Village, are below sea level. The principal beaches are at Cai Vieng, Hong Xoai Lon and Hon Xoai Be. The tidal range is 3.3-3.9m, exceptionally 4.0m. The salinity of the surrounding waters fluctuates seasonally, ranging from 31.11 ppt in the dry season to 9.30 ppt in the wet season (Scott, 1989).
Tropical monsoonal with pronounced wet and dry seasons. Mean annual rainfall is 1,700mm to 1,800mm, mean annual temperature at sea level is 25C to 28C and mean annual relative humidity is 85%. The rainy season lasts from May to September, the heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August. There is often some drizzle during January, February and March. The average temperature during the wet season is 30C, the prevailing wind is south-easterly, and typhoons and tropical storms are frequent. The dry or cold season lasts from November to March. The temperature normally varies between 16C and 19C, although it occasionally drops below 10C (Scott, 1989).
- PHYSICAL FEATURES
There are three main types of vegetation in the archipelago: tropical evergreen forest on the hills, freshwater swamp forest at the foot of the hills and coastal mangrove forest. The hill forest includes species such as Spondias lakonensis, Milius flipes, Indospermum sp., Pometia pinnata, Euphorbia sp., Carralli lancaefolia and Dimerocarpus brenieri, with trees up to 20-30m in height. Species of Urticacaea and Orchidaceae are dominant in the lowest strata of the forest. On mountain summits, the vegetation is drought resistant and stunted due to strong winds, the height not exceeding 5m. In some places Sasa japonica is dominant. Common species in the swamp and foothill forest include Dracontomelum duperreanum, Aglaia gigantea, Duabanga sonneratioides, Lagerstroemia balansea, Pterospermum sp., Cinnamomum spp., Caryodaphnopsis tonkinensis and Peltaphorum tonkinensis. These species, which grow to heights of up to 20m, dominate the upper strata of the forest. A lower strata with trees up to 12m in height includes Engelhardtia spicata, Gironniera subaequalis and Garcinia sp., while a third stratum, up to 8m high, includes Alphonsea spp. and Ardisia tonkinensis. The main island has over 2,300ha of mangrove forest comprising Rhizophora mucronata, Bruguiera gymnorhiza, Kandelia candel and Aegiceras mafus. The trees, however, only attain 2-3m in height because of the cold winters, low concentration of silt and over-exploitation (Scott, 1989). A preliminary survey found 118 timber species and 160 species of medicinal plants (R.M. Lesaca, pers. comm., 1984) and in total 620 species of plants have been recorded in the archipelago (Scott, 1989). The island once had large tracts of primary forest with hardwood trees such as Podocarpus wallichianus, Tarrietia cochinchinensis and Dalbergia sp. However, there is currently very little forest cover remaining and all of it has been disturbed (J. MacKinnon, pers. comm., 1987).
The fauna has not been studied in detail but the island does not appear to support the large mammals or carnivores found on the mainland. However, preliminary surveys have revealed that the fauna is distinctive with unique elements adapted to island conditions. One such endemic is a subspecies of Francois' monkey Presbytis francoisi poliocephalus. Other mammals known to occur include leopard Panthera pardus (T), leopard cat Felis bengalensis, rhesus macaque Macaca mulatta, pigtail macaque M. nemestrina, bear macaque M. arctoides, mainland serow Capricornis sumatrensis, sambar Cervus unicolor, Indian muntjak Muntiacus muntjak, European otter Lutra lutra (V), large Indian civet Viverra zibetha, small Indian civet Viverricula malaccensis, black giant squirrel Ratufa bicolor, belly-banded squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus, Swinhoe's striped squirrel Tamiops swinhoe, three species of rat Rattus, bamboo rat Rhizomys sumatrensis, crested porcupine Hystrix hodgsoni, Asiatic brush-tailed porcupine Atherurus macrourus and Horsfield's leaf-nose bat Hipposideros larvatus (four subspecies) (Scott, 1989).
The islands lie on a main migration route for many species of waterfowl. The beaches and mangrove forests provide feeding and roosting sites for a large number of birds during the migration season, including several species of ducks, geese and shorebirds. Resident and migrant species include little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, common cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, spotbill duck Anas poecilorhyncha, white-breasted water-hen Amaurornis phoenicurus, water cock Gallicrex cinera and pheasant-tailed jacana Hydrophasianus chirugus. Forest birds include Oriental pied hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris, a very rare species for northern Viet Nam. Reptiles include Gecko gecko, Python sp., Embrystoma sp and hawksbill turtle Eretmocheyls imbricata (E) (Scott, 1989). More than 100 bird species have been recorded (Vo Quy, pers. comm., 1988). Some 200 species of fish, 500 molluscs and 400 species of arthropods have been recorded (Scott, 1989).
Seventeen sites containing traces of humans have been located on the main island. Stone tools and bones found at the sites indicate that primitive man was living in the caves and grottos on the island between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago. Cai Beo Cave, about 1.5km south-east of Cat Ba Town has been studied the most intensively and cave was first discovered by a French archaeologist in 1938 (Scott, 1989).
bLOCAL HUMAN POPULATION
Several thousand people have migrated recently from nearby coastal provinces and mainly live in the south of the island. In 1983, the population of the main island was 7,751, and several villages are included in the park. The principal means of livelihood are forest exploitation, agriculture and fishing. Agricultural crops include rice, although this continues to be imported from the mainland, cassava and fruit such as orange, apple and lychee. About 350 tonnes of fish were landed in 1983 (R.M. Lesaca, pers. comm., 1984; Scott, 1989).
VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES
Access is by boat which takes about 3.5 hours (Scott, 1989). No further information is available.
- CULTURAL HERITAGE
Local scientists have conducted preliminary surveys of flora and fauna (R.M. Lesaca, pers. comm., 1984). One small island is used for breeding turtles and another for breeding rhesus monkeys (J. MacKinnon, pers. comm., 1987). The National Institute of Archaeology surveyed Cai Beo Cave some years after its discovery in 1938 and in 1983 the National Institute of Historical Museums and the Historical Museum of Hai Phong continued the research (Scott, 1989).
- SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES
The forests on the island are particularly valued for maintaining the water regime. They also contain important genetic resources and support the food chain of economically important aquatic animals such as fish, shrimp, bivalves and arthropods. The forests are also an important source of pit props for the mining areas in neighbouring Quang Ninh Province. The fishery is important not only for the local people but also for the inhabitants of the adjacent mainland (Scott, 1989). Although much of the island is gazetted as a national park, agricultural activities and forest clearance are both tolerated and actively encouraged by local authorities who envisage expanded production. However, it is not clear to what extent these activities take place within the park itself. A road from the south to the north of the island is under construction and a ferry service to Hai Phong is being implemented (R.M. Lesaca, pers. comm., 1984). A management plan prepared by the Ministry of Forestry was not accepted by local government. A plan for development by local government was not accepted by the Ministry of Forestry. A new management plan was due to be prepared (J. MacKinnon, pers. comm., 1987). The current objectives of the park, as outlined by Scott (1989) are: to preserve natural ecosystems and genetic resources; to restore the native flora and fauna through replanting, re-introduction and habitat improvement; to promote outdoor recreation and environmental education for the general public in collaboration with the tourist industry; and to promote scientific research relevant to the management of the park.
- CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT
Shifting agriculture, over-exploitation of forest resources for firewood and construction timber, and the demand for grazing land for domestic animals have resulted in widespread deforestation and the destruction of natural vegetation. This in turn has had a detrimental effect on fish production and water supply. In 1989 the park authorities were promoting rural planning in order to overcome these problems (Scott, 1989).
The total budget of the island in 1983 was approximately US$4-5 million, with about US$100,000 being spent on reafforestation.
- MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS
May 1987, reviewed September 1989
- Report on a visit to Hanoi. Programme of Natural Resources and Environmental Research and Protection. Bogor. 8 pp.
- MacKinnon, J. (1983).
- A Directory of Asian wetlands. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, UK. 1,181 pp.
- Scott, D.A. (Ed.) (1989).