2011 Volume 51 Issue 2 Pages 337-368
The Central Truong Son area, extending from the north to the south of central-southern Lao PDR and central Vietnam, has high biodiversity comprising endemic and rare species; moreover new taxa are still being described. Its fauna and flora are invaluable for future evolutionary biology and biogeography in Asia. After Vietnam and Lao PDR became independent, agriculture and forestry developed rapidly, though many people in and around biodiversity-rich areas remain poor. Protected areas have been established in this region; however, owing to limited capacity and budget constraints, management activities are restricted and encroachment and resource extraction are prevalent. Currently, in the two countries, economic emphasis is on the construction of hydraulic power facilities and roads. Free trade of agricultural products will soon be introduced, thereby creating a platform for large-scale industrialized agriculture and forestry businesses. This negatively impacts the locals, who are from minority ethnicities and were translocated to lowland (or road-side) settlements. In addition, policies imposed upon the locals have forced them to abandon traditional agro-forestry and engage in small-scale agriculture activies that deprive them of basic necessities. Uncontrolled extraction of forest resources and/or illegal cultivation by refugees or poverty would greatly damage biodiversity and wildlife habitats. To avoid this situation, following should be taken: improvement of the livelihood of inhabitants in and around protected areas, including the sustainable use of forest resources for participation in protected area management; reinforcement of conservation management activities both in protected areas and non-protected areas; and participation in policy making concerning livelihood, land uses, and capacity–building of management authorities. These measures require participation by stakeholders, for instance, researchers at universities or research institutions who can conduct research and shape public opinion. Developed countries such as Japan, and scholars around the world, should support these local institutions.