The government has pulled the plug on two proposed hydropower plants to protect a world biosphere reserve.
The order to call them off came from Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, who had received a report on the likely environmental impacts of Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A dams on the Dong Nai Riverfrom the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
The report said that the dams would destroy more than 327 hectares of forests, 128 ha of them in the Cat Tien National Park northeast of Ho Chi Minh City.
The dams would badly affect the Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake) wetlands inside the park and the flow of the Dong Nai River, it warned.
Bau Sau was named to the Ramsar list of wetlands, which now has more than 2,110 sites worldwide. It is based on the Ramsar Convention, an agreement between 165 member governments on the sustainable use of wetlands.
According to the report, the two dams would have violated the Laws of Biodiversity and Heritage because the builder, Duc Long Gia Lai Group, failed to get an assessment done by relevant agencies.
If the dams are built, Cat Tien National Park could lose its UNESCO world heritage recognition, it warned.
Last June the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which has conducted a thorough evaluation of the park, urged UNESCO not to accept the nomination of Cat Tien National Park for failing to meet World Heritage criteria.
Vu Ngoc Long, who heads the HCMC-based Southern Institute of Ecology, said the plans for the two dams had a major bearing on the IUCN's recommendation.
The park is home to around 1,700 species of rare plants and more than 700 animals and birds, many endangered.
It has been recognized as a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
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