Malaysia Thailand And Vietnam Get New UNESCO Biosphere Reserves

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced a number of new Biosphere Reserves in Southeast Asia that are designed to preserve important natural landscapes and diversity.

Main picture Doi Chiang Dao Biosphere Reserve, Thailand

Announcement included popular tourist destinations in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam and will help to ensure sustainable development and tourism.

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve, Malaysia

Penang Hill is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia, attracting 1.6 million visitors each year. Situated on Penang Island, in a global biodiversity hotspot. It covers a surface area of 12,481 ha including 5,196 ha of marine areas and features Malaysia’s only meromictic lake whose bottom layer of seawater is covered by a layer of freshwater constituting a rare ecosystem that is home to fragile and threatened aquatic species, like the endemic toad Ansonia penangensis.

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve, Malaysia credit Habitat Foundation

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve is a mosaic of urban, agricultural and natural landscapes, with one of the last coastal rainforests in Malaysia, coastal lowland and hill dipterocarp forests, mangroves, wetlands, sandy beaches and coral reefs. These diverse habitats support a wide range of floral and faunal diversity, including endemic and endangered species such as Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica) and migratory birds. Its beaches are common nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles.

Penang Hill has been a major tourist attraction and a magnet for colonial officials and botanists in the 19th century. Since their creation in 1884, the Penang Botanic Gardens have served as a repository of Penang Hill’s flora and fauna which numbers over 2,400 plant species, including over 200 species of orchids.

Doi Chiang Dao Biosphere Reserve, Thailand

Doi Chiang Dao Biosphere Reserve is located in Chiang Dao District of Chiang Mai Province in Thailand. It is the only region in the country to be covered with sub-alpine vegetation, found also in the Himalayas and in the southern part of China. Many rare, endangered or vulnerable species live in the 85,909.04 ha biosphere reserve, such as the Lar Gibbon (Hylobates lar), leaf monkey (Trachypithecus phayrei), Chinese Goral (Naemorhedus griseus), Tiger (Panthera tigris), or Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).

Credit Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

The landscape abounds with caves formed by the infiltration of rain water through limestone formations. The largest and most important of these is Chiang Dao Cave, from which the biosphere reserve takes its name. The cave is associated with the legend of Chao Luang Chiang Dao, the king of all spirits, who is believed to reside in the towering Doi Chiang Dao mountain; both are revered as sacred places. A Buddhist temple in the Lanna style marks the entrance of the cave. The cave and mountain attract many visitors each year, and a model for visitor impact management was implemented. Ecotourism, birdwatching and stargazing are further local tourist attractions. 

Agriculture using a traditional gravity-based irrigation system called Maung Fai is a notable activity in the site, where local practices and knowledge have been maintained over almost 800 years. 

Nui Chua Biosphere Reserve, Viet Nam

The 106.646,45 ha. Nui Chua Biosphere Reserve encompasses the terrestrial and marine areas of Ninh Thuan Province and is located at the end of the Truong Son Mountain Range where the climateis harsh with sunny, hot and arid weather and minimal rainfall The biosphere reserve is a representative area in terms of biodiversity with a rich and diverse mosaic of ecosystems characteristic of  the south-central region of Viet Nam, including unique semi-arid vegetation, sea turtle nesting beaches and coral reefs. 

Nui Chua Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam, credit Jhila on flickr

A total population of 447,162 people live in the site including the main ethnic groups of Kinh, Cham, Raglai, Hoa, Tay, Nung and Muong, all of whom have diverse cultures, artistic, religious and architectural traditions as well as numerous rituals and large festivals.

Kon ha Nung Biosphere Reserve, Viet Nam

Kon ha Nung is located in the highlands of Central Viet Nam, the so called ‘Roof of Indochina’, the highest peak of which reaches over 1,700 m. and extends over 413,511.67 ha and is home to 413,511.67 inhabitants. The biosphere reserve is also home to rare species such as the Gray-shanked douc (Pygathrix cinerea) a rare and endemic primate species of Viet Nam, classified as critically endangered, with only about 1,000 individuals in the wild.

The biosphere reserve is managedin line with the traditional knowledge of local communities including Indigenous and folk knowledge about production and social organization. The Gia Lai Province People’s Committee formulates policies concerning land and forest allocations to households, payment for forest ecosystem services and the development of sustainable ecotourism.

What is an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?

Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges. Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each site promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

Biosphere Reserves involve local communities and all interested stakeholders in planning and management. They integrate three main “functions”:

  • Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity
  • Economic development that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable
  • Logistic support, underpinning development through research, monitoring, education and training

Advertising and affiliate links help to support this site. We only partner with organisations who we believe provide a good service or product. Thank you.

Published by flyingdogtravel

Travel inspiration

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: