The Cat Tien National Park in the southern province of Dong Nai. Photo credit: Dong Nai tourism promotion center website
The agriculture ministry has dismissed the possibility a proposed 18-kilometer road in the Cat Tien National Park poses environmental threats, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Monday.
In a letter to the Dong Nai Province administration Sunday, the ministry said the road, meant to facilitate forest rangers' work, has already been assessed and cleared by the environment ministry.
It would go along the Dong Nai River mostly across grasslands and secondary forests, the ministry was quoted as saying.
It would only need 5.5 hectares, which is too small to affect local bio-diversity or cut off wildlife from water and food sources as the province fears, the ministry said.
It also dismissed the possibility of any negative impacts on Dong Nai's ongoing efforts to get the park recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO, saying the road is located 14 kilometers away from Bau Sau wetland, supposedly the focus of the province's efforts.
By linking two forest ranger stations, the road would allow rangers to do their jobs more effectively and safely, especially during the rainy season when river boat patrols can be dangerous, it said.
The ministry promised that the park's manager would provide complete reports related to the construction to Dong Nai authorities for them to monitor it.
In a comment on the ministry's response, a senior official in Dong Nai, which has been calling for a halt to the project, told Tuoi Tre that province authorities would call on the ministry this week.
The Cat Tien National Park straddles five districts in the provinces of Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai, and Lam Dong and has a total area of 71,920 hectares.
In 2013 Vietnam applied to UNESCO for world heritage status for the park, but the application was rejected reportedly due to a string of failures by authorities to protect bio-diversity, which included the killing of the country's last Javan rhino
in 2010 and of an endangered gaur