In September 1988, the Ramsar Convention Bureau designated Xuan Thuy as Vietnam’s first Ramsar site, and Vietnam became the first contracting party to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, commonly known as the Ramsar Convention, in Southeast Asia. Twenty years later, only one more Ramsar site has been designated: the Bau Sau wetland in the Cat Tien National Park in September 2005. On February 2, 2011, World Wetlands Day, Ba Be National Park was recognised as Vietnam’s third Ramsar site.
Ba Be National Park is centred on Ba Be Lake, which is at an elevation of 178 m and is the only large natural mountain lake in Vietnam. The 1994 Biodiversity Action Plan for Vietnam listed Ba Be (together with nearby Na Hang Nature Reserve) among the 12 highest priority sites for biodiversity conservation in the country. Ba Be meets five of nine criteria for identifying Wetland of International Importance. It is home to many globally threatened plant and animal species, including more than 1% of the global population of the White-eared Night Heron Gorsachius magnificus.
Nomination of Ba Be is an important step forward in implementing the Ramsar Convention in particular and in conserving Vietnam’s biodiversity in general. MONRE’s Biodiversity Conservation Agency, the national Ramsar Administrative Authority, is now working on the nomination of Tram Chim National Park, one of the few remaining natural wetlands in the Mekong Delta, as Vietnam’s fourth Ramsar site.