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Scientist honored for work on environmental conservation, preservation of red-shanked douc langurs

Le Thi Trang, 34, deputy director of GreenViet, has been honored as one of 10 “Hotspot Heroes” by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

She is the only Vietnamese woman named in the CEPF’s list.

When she was a student at the Da Nang University of Science and Technology, Trang participated in many investigations on endangered wildlife trafficking in Da Nang City and six provinces in the central region.

Scientist honored for work on environmental conservation, preservation of red-shanked douc langurs

After school graduation, Trang did not choose a job in environmental technology as she was trained. She studied the activities of poaching and trading wild animals and joined forces with agencies to organize media campaigns to heighten the community’s awareness of wildlife protection.

In 2013, she decided to work for GreenViet. Trang and her co-workers have been designing and implementing a lot of media campaigns to bring knowledge about wildlife to the community.

Starting with the campaign on protecting red shanked douc langurs on Son Tra Peninsula, Trang and volunteers printed propaganda panels, putting the images of red shanked douc families at bus shelters in the city to better catch people’s attention.

Trang noted that though the community’s awareness of wildlife protection has increased, wildlife trafficking continues because the demand for wildlife meat still exists. She believes that education, especially of students, is the best solution to improve people’s awareness and change their behavior.

Trang’s team has carried out extracurricular teaching activities about nature conservation with the theme “child scientists” at secondary schools. They take children to Son Tra to learn about the peninsula and the red shanked doucs there; and organize photo exhibitions and seminars on biodiversity conservation.

The ‘I love Son Tra’ program organized by Trang helps Da Nang’s people and travelers see the beauty of Son Tra and the value of local biodiversity.

The ‘I love Son Tra’ program organized by Trang helps Da Nang’s people and travelers see the beauty of Son Tra and the value of local biodiversity.

Trang, together with GreenViet, has helped create one of the most successful wildlife conservation stories – the campaign of saving Son Tra from uncontrolled tourism development.

The campaign is believed to have saved a high number of red shanked douc, a species which is in danger of extinction, and has urged people to join the wildlife conservation movement.

Not only has she made every effort to protect the ‘green lung of Da Nang’, Trang also has implemented projects in Quang Nam and Kon Tum. Her projects aim to call for people’s participation in works to protect wild animals and build nature reserves. They urge people to protect forests and not hunt wild animals.

Le Ha



HCM City aims to reduce water pollution by 90 percent

HCM City authorities have ordered the city Department of Natural Resources and Environment to work with agencies and district authorities to strictly monitor the discarding of litter and untreated sewage in canals in the city.

HCM City aims to reduce water pollution by 90 percent
The Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal was once seriously contaminated and considered a “dead canal” back in the 1950s, but was revitalised following a World Bank-funded clean-up project. VNA/VNS Photo Manh Linh

Under a programme to reduce environmental pollution in the 2016-20 period, HCM City aims to reduce surface water pollution by 90 per cent, according to the department.

In recent years, the city has dredged rivers and canals and has urged residents not to discharge waste into canals.

A recent water test at 21 locations throughout the Sai Gon – Dong Nai river system showed that all water samples met the standards set by the department. Sampled water at areas such as the Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe canal also indicated improved quality.

However, canals and rivers that lie between various provinces and regions still show signs of heavy microbiological pollution, oxygen depletion and other problems.

In addition, waterways throughout the city are suffering from thousands of tonnes of waste and large amounts of untreated wastewater. 

Though the city has heavily invested in canal protection every year, water quality is not expected to improve until public awareness of environmental protection improves, experts have said.

Manufacturers in the city have implemented environmental treatment solutions, but they are mostly small-scale and ineffective, according to the department. 

New plans

The department said it would work with districts where rivers and canals are located to encourage citizens not to throw litter or sewage into the canals, especially the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe canal.

Factories and industrial parks that discharge over 1,000 cubic metres of wastewater a day must set up automatic measuring stations that directly link to the department, according to the city People’s Committee.

Companies should also be encouraged to use advanced equipment and technologies to minimise waste. The water quality monitoring network should be expanded and an environmental database established, it said.

Local authorities will be responsible for monitoring wastewater treatment in manufacturing facilities and requiring companies that do not have proper treatment solutions to invest in standard-quality systems.

To reduce the amount of toxins in the canal, the city will increase sewage pumping to at least 64,000 cubic metres per hour after heavy rains.

The flood-tide control sewers on the canal will also be monitored closely to regulate water levels in the rainy season and protect water quality.

The city plans to continue to strictly regulate all wastewater treatment systems in industrial parks, export processing zones, high-tech parks and industrial clusters.

It will also set up automatic wastewater measurement stations directly linked to the department.

HCM City targets collecting and treating all industrial and medical liquid wastes and 90 per cent of industrial fumes by the end of this year. It also plans to reduce surface water pollution by 90 per cent and air pollution by 70 per cent in comparison with 2011.

Cleaning up canals

The city has in recent years spent trillions of Vietnamese dong to clean up its highly polluted canal network. Most canals are covered in rubbish and their water is often black and foul, making them look like sewers rather than canals.

According to the department, pollution levels in many canals is far above permitted levels.

The Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal, which runs through District 1, District 3, and Phu Nhuan, Binh Thanh, and Tan Binh districts with more than 1.2 million residents living along it, was once seriously contaminated and considered a “dead canal” back in the 1950s.

The canal was revitalised following a World Bank-funded clean-up project, the first phase of which ended in 2012.  VNS


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The journey of a Vietnamese student to an internship at NASA

After receiving a full scholarship worth VND6 billion to study at a university in the US, Nguyen Hoang Ngan won an internship at NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) thanks to his creative science projects.

Ngan, 22, is a former student at Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted in HCM City. Four years ago, Ngan thanks to his terrain wheelchair disabled project, obtained a scholarship to study in the US.

The journey of a Vietnamese student to an internship at NASA

Nguyen Hoang Ngan

Ngan is studying mathematics and physics at Harvey Mudd College in California. He intended to carry out research at a scientific research establishment, but Ngan’s program was cancelled because of Covid-19.

Many organizations and science establishments in the US have halted their operation, downsized the labor force, and suspended research because of the pandemic.

However, he still became an intern at NASA and began working there this summer.

He found that in Vietnam, there were not many ‘playing fields’ for high school and university students. Some competitions in science and technology development are designed for university students only, while other scientific exhibitions are reserved only for brilliant ideas.

In Vietnam, there were not many ‘playing fields’ for high school and university students. Some competitions in science and technology development are designed for university students only, while other scientific exhibitions are reserved only for brilliant ideas.

Exhibitions and forums where students can share experiences are organized but there is little else.

For instance, it is very difficult to find models which give support and provide additional comprehensive knowledge to promote the potential of people who are nurturing their ideas and scientific topics.

When implementing the terrain wheelchair project, Ngan and his friends had to do everything from scratch. Lacking experience and knowledge, they had to read hundreds of documents to find solutions.

As a result, Ngan decided to connect Vietnamese students engaging in scientific research. He kicked off Science for the Future Fair project, a non-profit program which aims to create a free playing field to inspires young people who have aspirations for scientific research.

The path to NASA

Ngan initially did not intend to apply for the internship because he thought NASA did not accept many interns in theoretical physics.

However, Ngan’s teacher introduced him to another teacher who was working for NASA, where he was admitted after an interview.

Asked about the work he did at NASA, Ngan said the major task was designing an experiment from a satellite to the Earth and from the Moon back to the Earth. The aim of the experiment was to find out whether quantum theory was influenced by relativity and vice versa. 

Le Huyen


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Forest fires a burning problem during dry season in Vietnam

As many as 160 forest fires were reported across Vietnam in the last six months, destroying about 756ha of forest, according to the Vietnam Fire and Rescue Police Department under the Public Security Ministry.

Forest fires a burning problem during dry season in Vietnam

A forest fire happens in Mong Ga Mountain in Huong Son District, Ha Tinh province on June 30, 2020. 

During the same period last year, 156 forest fires were reported nationwide, destroying 930 ha of forest. Notably, the total area of destroyed forest last year increased by 64 per cent compared with the figures of the first half of 2018.

According to the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, last year’s peak for forest fires fell between June 26 and July 1, mostly in the central provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang, Quang Ngai and Phu Yen.

Now with northern and central provinces faced with a heatwave forecast to last days, the risk of forest fires has increased.

The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorology Forecasting on Thursday reported that most northern provinces on Wednesday experienced temperatures up to 38 degree Celsius, while central provinces from Thanh Hoa to Phu Yen saw the mercury rise to more than 39 degrees Celsius in some areas.

The temperature was reportedly higher on Thursday as provinces from Thanh Hoa to Quang Tri saw 37-40 degrees Celsius and even more than 40 degrees in some areas.

The weather forecasting centre said the heatwave would continue.

Meanwhile, in the central province of Thanh Hoa, on Thursday, a forest fire lasted more than seven hours in two communes – Hai Nhan and Ninh Hai – in Tinh Gia District.

The fire started at noon and spread to an area of about 50 ha.

Earlier, on June 29, a fire raged for six hours in the central province of Nghe An. It began at about 8pm in a pine forest in Dien Chau District’s Dien An Commune. Hot weather and strong winds caused the fire to spread over dozens of hectares of pine forest. More than 200 households who live near the fire were evacuated.

On the same evening, another forest fire happened in An Phu Commune, Vu Quang District in the neighbouring province of Ha Tinh. The fire then spread to two communes – Son Long and Son Tra – in Huong Son District. It took nearly two days to control the fire.

Dozens of hectares of pine and acacia forest on Son Thanh Commune, Yen Thanh District, Nghe An Province were destroyed by fire.

Common causes  

Prolonged heat with temperature up to 43 degrees Celsius in central coastal areas in the last 12 days of June was blamed as the main cause of forest fires.

High temperatures and humidity of less than 30 per cent made forests more vulnerable to fire and once the fires happened, it was hard to extinguish them.

Poor quality of forests has been mentioned as a factor that increases the risk of forest fires in central provinces, Vietnam News Agency reported early this week.

In central Vietnam, primary forests account for only 7 per cent of total forests and the remaining forests are secondary forests.

Of the secondary forests, impoverished ones account for about 70 per cent.

The secondary forests are said to be more sensitive to fire than primary ones.

Pine forest, Melaleuca forests, bamboo forests, eucalyptus forest, dipterocarp forest are easily flammable. These kinds of trees are very common in the central region with a total area of nearly 6 million hectares.

Human activities, especially burning in forest areas, also cause forest fires.

According to Nghe An Province’s Forest Protection Division, four out of nine forest fires in the province since the beginning of this year were related to human activities.

Modest funding, lack of equipment and staff are also problems in forest fire prevention and control.

Forest environment services

Since 2011, Vietnam has been implementing a national payment for forest environmental services (PFES) scheme that has mobilised thousands of households to protect and manage more than 5 million hectares of forest land.

More than $230 million has been disbursed to participating households in 40 provinces and the socioeconomic and conservation benefits have been well-regarded.

PFES schemes are based on environmental service ‘users’ rewarding or compensating ‘providers’ of those environmental services.

The northern mountainous province of Son La has run PFES since 2009.

Out of 637,018ha of forest in the province, 537,000ha has been protected and developed with funding from the PFES policy, thus, the quality of forest and forest biodiversity has improved regularly.

In the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau, PFES also helps reduce forest fires.

Task forces were established at every commune in the province, responsible for patrolling and protecting certain forest areas as well as detecting potential risks/violations. The task forces are paid with the funding from PFES.

Vang Thi Thanh, chairwoman of Num Nua Commune People’s Committee in Muong Te District, said local authorities strengthened communicating on forest fire prevention and control to local residents, especially during the dry season.

More than 4,000ha of forest in the commune was protected by its task forces.

According to Muong Te District People’s Committee, it set up 126 task forces specialising in forest fire prevention and control. For the last few years, no forest fires have hit the district.  VNS


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