The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is seeking the government's approval to build two hydropower plants near Cat Tien National Park in the southern province of Dong Nai.
Under the proposal, the Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A plants will encroach on an area of 137 hectares of the park, and an additional 145 hectares of Nam Cat Tien forest.
The ministry said the construction is "appropriate to the country's electricity development planning," although it admitted that the plans will affect forest resources and bio-diversity in the park.
However, the ministry claims the construction will have little influence on the Rhinoceros Reserve and the Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake) wetlands.
Just 160 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, the Cat Tien National Park is a reserve of natural resources in Vietnam with lots of rare, specious and endemic genes of fauna and flora, as plentiful site for scientists, domestic and foreign tourists.
The natural area of the park is 71,920-hectare wide, including the South of Cat Tien (Nam Cat Tien) in the Dong Nai Province, the West of Cat Tien (Tay Cat Tien) in Binh Phuoc Province, and another section in Lam Dong Province.
After the discovery of a population of Vietnamese Javan Rhinoceros in 1992, the park was declared a Rhinoceros Reserve and received worldwide attention.
Conservationists have for long raised concerns about the excessive number of hydropower dams on the Dong Nai River, which threatens to change much of the river's ecology, the Nam Cat Tien forest, and the livelihood of residents around the basin.
Lam Dong Province, in the river's upstream area, has seen dams destroy more than 15,000 hectares of natural forest. Experts say Nam Cat Tien may end up suffering the same fate.