Con Dao National Park
Con Dao National Park is one of only two terrestrial and maritime National Parks in Vietnam which encompass both terrestrial and marine natural resources.
Con Dao National Park was established in 1977, but protection extended only to the flora and fauna on land. The region was given protected status in 1984 and made a national park in 1993. The park now covers fourteen of the sixteen islands and their surrounding marine areas. The forest cover on the islands is dense: a sizable proportion is in pristine condition, particularly the humid hill forest growing above 500m above sea level. Over a thousand hectares of Con Dao National Park’s coral reefs survive in the shallow waters – a stark contrast to other areas of Vietnam that have low coral cover as a result of overexploitation, destructive fishing, and sedimentation. In 1998, the park was extended to include 14,000ha of sea together with an additional 20,500ha marine buffer zone. The Con Dao National Park officially covers 45,000ha, encompassing beautiful beaches and forests. It is home to 882 species of floral species, 135 species of animals, and more than 1,300 species of marine creatures. The park includes a part of the island and the surrounding sea. The national park is characterized by a diverse ecosystem. Many species of corals and especially the sea turtle are found here. In 2006, a delegation of UNESCO Vietnam representatives surveyed the area and concluded that the park is eligible to be a natural-cultural mixture world heritage The Vietnamese government is preparing necessary documents to submit to UNESCO soon. Con Dao’s environmental significance is recognized internationally and is included in the list of “Areas of highest regional priority” in The World Bank Global System of Marine Protected Areas. The entire marine area is rich in biodiversity: over 1,300 species of sea animals have already been identified. The ecosystems on Con Dao are favorable habitats for rare species such as the Hawksbill, Green Turtles & Dugong, the strange creatures popularly known as ‘sea cows’ and believed to be the source of the ‘mermaid’ legends from their habit of sunbathing on rocks.