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Identifying and quantifying the threats to biodiversity in the U Minh peat swamp forests of the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

  • Rachel Nuwer (a1) and Diana Bell (a1)


The landscape of U Minh in southern Vietnam contains the country's last remaining fragments of peat swamp forest and is home to several globally threatened species. Despite the presence of two national parks, evidence indicates that illegal natural resource use by local communities has had a significant effect on species populations. We investigated the nature and extent of natural resource use in U Minh. Interviews revealed that location is a significant determining factor in whether or not individuals choose to harvest resources, suggesting that the national parks are having some positive results in curtailing illegal harvesting. Most hunting and fishing is carried out for trade purposes and most interviewees indicated a preference for consuming livestock, suggesting that resource users do not rely on wildlife for subsistence but rather for supplementing their income. People who prefer consuming wild meat were found to be more likely to harvest natural resources than people who prefer consuming livestock, demonstrating a potential link between these behavioural issues. The preference for wild meat decreases with increasing price, in contrast with urban consumers who value more expensive wild meat varieties, which suggests that different factors are driving wild meat consumption among the rural Vietnamese. The majority of interviewees perceived a decrease in species populations, attributing the decline primarily to harvesting pressures and thus indicating that strict regulation of illegal harvesting activities is necessary to protect U Minh's remaining biodiversity.


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