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Assessing habitat connectivity for forest wildlife in Vietnam

A photo of landscape of Pu Mat National Park in Vietnam.
Forest habitat is depicted in the buffer zone of Pu Mat National Park during a visit by Peter Singleton and park staff to further refine the corridor connectivity analysis for the core protected areas within the biosphere reserve. Credit: Forest Service photo by Peter Singleton

The montane tropical forests of central Vietnam are globally recognized for their significant biodiversity.

Peter Singleton, a research wildlife biologist with Pacific Northwest Research Station, has been working with International Programs and United States Agency for International Development’s Vietnam Forests and Delta program to assess habitat connectivity in the Western Nghe An Man Biosphere Reserve. This work is in partnership with and funded by USAID/Vietnam.

Earlier this year, Singleton and VFD partners conducted preliminary forest habitat conductivity analyses with VFD partners. The team used the Linkage Mapper toolbox for ArcGIS to evaluate resistance to forest animal movement across the landscape based on land cover, roads, development and slope. The analysis identified barriers to animal movement, highlighting locations where conservation may provide the greatest benefit to wildlife.

This month, Singleton returned to Vietnam for two weeks to work with VFD, protected area managers and local wildlife experts. They conducted site visits and solicited input from local partners for revision of the preliminary analyses. Forest Service and VFD collaborators will use the new information to prepare the final assessment with the goal of identifying priority areas for biodiversity conservation and restoration.

The Western Nghe An Man and Biosphere Reserve encompasses over 1.3 million acres near the Vietnam-Laos border and is home to more than 80 near threatened to critically endangered species. Eight indigenous minority groups also live there. There are seven nature reserves and national parks within and near the Biosphere Reserve, yet wildlife in the area is under threat due to habitat fragmentation and exploitation from wildlife traffickers.