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The map of Vietnam reads as an impressive matrix of national parks, nature reserves and proposed protected areas spread over mountains, lowland forests, wetlands, islands, coral reefs and 3,440 km of coastline. Locked within these natural pockets is an endemic and indigenous biodiversity that makes Vietnam a truly special country. An estimated 12,000 species of vascular flora occur in Vietnam.
The list of threatened and disappearing fauna includes 273 species of mammals and hundreds of bird, reptile and fish species. This unique biodiversity and natural area diversity are under increasing pressure from population growth, industrial growth and development in the form of illegal hunting and logging, wildlife trade, damming and mining, and road construction.
FFI's Ecotourism Map of Vietnam is a call for international tourists to sit up and take note of Vietnam's spectacular natural composition, whilst being responsible, respectful and considerate of local communities. By engaging local people through the use of guides, home-stays and various modes of transportation, it is hoped that tourism will serve to increase local communities' awareness of their natural environment whilst providing them with alternative sources of income. Conservation and community development are the ultimate aims of ecotourism and this map should be a valuable tool in achieving them.
The map itself is a colourful and informative guide to natural Vietnam with photographs of landscapes and endangered species. It pinpoints the exact location of all national parks and nature reserves, while providing information on the composition of species, tips on how to see them, and guidelines on how to be a responsible ecotourist. Also included are six inset maps of protected areas complete with topography, trails and various other points of interests.
One of the inset maps features Pu Luong Nature Reserve, where FFI has been helping local communities to develop community-based ecotourism initiatives. Firstly, support has been provided in tourism management and service provision through a mixture of material assistance, training courses and ongoing support. This has included training in home-stay management and services, construction of foreign-style toilets and washing facilities and provision of materials such as bedding and mosquito nets. Secondly, the reserve is being promoted as an ecotourism destination through production of materials such as posters, brochures and a short bilingual video on the landscape, and placement of signboards. A four-day familiarization trip was organized for tour operators and journalists who wished to visit Pu Luong.
The Ecotourism Map of Vietnam highlights similar initiatives that are under way throughout Vietnam.