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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)


Using multi data for biodiversity conservation at Dak Nong Province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam


PI: Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong (huongthanh.frem@gmail.com), Tay Nguyen University
U.S. Partner: Volker Radeloff, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview:

5-253 Forest Data Collection
The team conducts data collection in the study area (photo courtesy of Dr. Nguyen)
Development of sustainable forest management and conservation strategies requires an understanding of how the composition and structure of tropical forests change in response to different disturbance regimes and how this affects both species distributions and people living in and near these forests. Most forests in Vietnam are affected by land cover change (LCC) resulting from human activities. To map and quantify the patterns of LCC, Dr. Nguyen and her team will analyze Landsat satellite images, GIS data, and field inventory data to classify forests by type and disturbance status. They will use these maps to stratify their field sampling and assess plant biodiversity among forest types and their changes following different levels of human disturbances (i.e., minor, moderate, and heavy impact). Furthermore, they will compare tree composition and structure along different ecological gradients, such as topography. By combining remote sensing, field data, and statistical processing, they expect to advance current methods to measure disturbance and biodiversity in the Central Highlands, which are largely based on field inventories. However, remotely sensed data is likely insufficient to map rare and endangered species, and hence areas of high conservation value. Therefore, the researchers will integrate spatial data with the experience of forestry workers and the indigenous knowledge of local people in the second phase of the project. Dr. Nguyen and her colleagues will collaborate closely with Dr. Radeloff, who will provide expert advice on forest sampling, analysis of vegetation diversity, and the use of remote sensing in ecology and biodiversity.

The project will involve all relevant stakeholders, including local authorities, forestry officers from various levels, and local people who depend on the forest. The project is designed so as to enhance conservation awareness among local people and improve skills and knowledge among forestry workers and officials responsible for conservation. The results will be transferred to relevant departments and reported to the Provincial People’s Committee (PPC) of Dak Nong Province in the form of recommendations for forestry strategies. This will be of crucial importance for the PPC in order to implement proper forestry policies, conservation strategies, and forest management for the province in the context of climate change. Furthermore results from the project will contribute in several ways to the development of techniques, methodology, and training in forest biodiversity inventory and monitoring, which is still very limited in the Central Highlands, including Dak Nong Province. Combining remote sensing, terrestrial data, and social surveys will also provide insights into how forest dynamics in the Central Highlands have changed in recent decades. These inferences will contribute to development of a strategy for forest management that can incorporate payments for ecosystem services, REDD, and biodiversity conservation in the Central Highlands.

Summary of Recent Activities

During the first three months of 2019, the PI Dr. Huong and her team conducted several activities related to the project. They met with personnel from Stations 2 and 3 of Ta Dung National Park to discuss the status of endangered and rare species in the location. In addition to park staff, they invited local people who have contracts with the park to protect the forest at Ta Dung. Locations of rare and endangered tree species mapped for use in further field work. During the meeting, participants also discussed the status of rare and endangered tree species and proposed suggestions for conservation and protection. The PEER team also conducted two field inventories for High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) species with regard to HCVF biodiversity in Ta Dung National Park. In addition, they analyzed their field and remote sensing data and prepared two papers for submission. Three Master’s students on the project have successfully defended their theses, and their results are expected to be published in the coming months. Two of the students also gave a presentation and poster at a conference in the Philippines and a paper by one of them is under review at the Vietnam Journal of Science and Technology. The students are continuing to work on the PEER project team, which in addition to the PI, fellow faculty members, and students also includes about 25 forestry staff and local people.

In the coming six months, the group will collect supplemental biodiversity data and conduct an HCVF inventory mainly for woody species. This will involve surveying their field plots for HCVF species and gathering relevant information from local people and forest owners through interviews and discussions. In addition, they will be collecting and analyzing additional high-resolution satellite data, including data provided free of charge from the USAID GeoCenter. Dr. Huong plans to make another visit to her U.S. partner Prof. Volker Radeloff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well.

5-253 Forestry Discussions5-253 Forestry GIS Training
The research team discusses rare tree species with forestry staff.The team training the head of the forest station on how to use GIS for monitoring forests with his mobile phone.
 

All photos courtesy of Dr. Nguyen


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