Halong to behold — and full of opportunities

Halong Bay, known in Vietnam as V?nh H? Long (Bay of the Descending Dragon), takes its name from the dragons which, legend holds, defended the area from Chinese invaders in ancient times.

The eroded limestone geology of this area gives rise to the islands, caves, lakes, and rock formations that make Ha Long Bay a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a tourist favorite.Striking white rock formations covered in dense jungle vegetation jut up from shimmering blue water. The islands and inlets of Ha Long Bay are noted for their abundance of caves and island lakes. With more than 3,000 tiny islands and quite a few larger ones, Ha Long is beautiful to behold — and full of opportunities for exploration and adventure.

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However, the beauty of the bay is under the threat of global climate change. It is reported that the rise in sea level and temperature due to greenhouse effect have been causing overtime damage to the in and out of Ha Long Bay, including the limestone caves, coral reefs and the bay’s water.Ha Long bay monitor group has been working with scientists and experts to conduct researches and examination on the the bay’s current situation and has found that the problem is even more complicated than it looks. These matters deal with many aspects , from the managerial policy of the heritage to climate change. Therefore, the group have been analyzing the top-priority  matters and conduct actions to tackle the problem as well as making future plan to maintain the stability of the bay, preventing further damages.MAIN PART1. Assess your sitea.

OUVThe outstanding universal value of this site is justified by UNESCO under criterion (vii) and (viii).CriterionDescriptionCriterion (vii)Comprised of a multitude of limestone islands and islets rising from the sea, in a variety of sizes and shapes and presenting picturesque, unspoiled nature, Ha Long Bay is a spectacular seascape sculpted by nature.Criterion (viii)As the most extensive and best known example of marine-invaded tower karst in the world Ha Long Bay is one of the world’s most important areas of Fengcong (clusters of conical peaks) and Fenglin (isolated tower features) karst. Possessing a tremendous diversity of caves and other landforms derived from the unusual geomorphological process of marine invaded tower karst the caves are of three main types: remnants of phreatic caves; old karstic foot caves and marine notch caves.

In terms of Integrity, Ha Long Bay is surrounded completely by “a large and extensive buffer zone”, which provides as a “sufficient integrity for a large scale geomorphic processes to operate unhindered”. Despite having been used by human for various actions throughout history, Ha Long Bay remain intact with its features and values. The third elements contributing to the OUV of the site is its protection and management requirements. Being a highly important historical and cultural relic, the site require intense protection from the provincial and national laws. It is important to maintain the integrity of the site by monitoring socio-economic activities in Ha Long Bay.

b. Features and AttributesWhile there are many features for Ha Long Bay, the table below includes the foremost significant features of Ha Long Bay along with some of their notable attributes. FeaturesAttributesLimestone (islands, pillars)QuanitySizeHeightStructureFrequency of storm eventsMarine erosionKarstNotches, Arches and CavesSea levelSizeCultural relics insideMarine erosionCoral ReefReproduction ratesTemperatureDeath ratesMarine speciesNumber of speciesReproduction ratesBreeding sitesBreeding ratesDeath ratesFeedingc. Sensitivity, Vulnerability, ResilienceLimestone is a sedimentary rock made up of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which originally produced by living organisms along with the physical condition and the chemical reaction.

Even though limestone is extremely durable, it is highly reactive when exposed to acids or even mildly acidic rainwater since the percentage of calcium carbonate in makes it vulnerable to dissolution in dilute acid due to the basic nature of the carbonate ion.Therefore, due to climate change, limestone can suffer substantial deterioration by the acid rain which creates a fizzing reaction. The most common effect of erosion and weathering on limestone is the loss of edge sharpness and other details little by little. Not only the acid rain but temperature can also affect rates of deterioration and movement of the patterns of salt migration within the stone. Furthermore, most of the natural problems, including acid rain as mentioned, require moisture to create side effect to the limestone.

On the other hand, wind erosion and vandalism can be occured independent from the moisture.  In addition, wind driven airborne abrasives may also selectively wear away detailing on certain elevations, this is depends on the direction of prevailing winds. General weathering described above can create erosion as a result, or it can be a more localized phenomenon based upon handling or exposure.2.

Capacity to adaptResources Ha Long Bay has a diverse ecosystem, with limestones, caves and karst. According to UNESCO’s website, they also have a huge range of staff and budget. They have almost 400 staff and an annual budget of approximately 2.15 million USD, the Ha Long Bay Management Department is well resourced to conduct its wide-ranging roles and responsibilities. However, the Department is hindered by its dependence on other government agencies.

Ha Long Bay also has extra-budgetary funds from UNESCO and budget from International Assistance.Stakeholders The stakeholders of Ha Long Bay includes International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD), The US Government, and local government, which makes up The Ha Long Bay Alliance which was funded by The US Agency for International Development (USAID). These groups will work at all levels of society; from raising grassroots awareness and strengthening environmental monitoring, to collaborating on social responsibility initiatives and improving the sustainability of the hundreds of tourist boats that cruise the bay daily (Jacobs, 2014).Law and Policy According to UNESCO’s website, Ha Long Bay was established as a historical and cultural relict and classified as a National Landscape Site in 1962. Subsequently designated as a Special National Landscape Site under the Cultural Heritage Law amended in 2009, land tenure is held by the Provincial Government. The property is protected effectively by a number of relevant provincial  and national laws as well as governmental decrees including; the Cultural Heritage Law, the Bio-Diversity Law, the Tourism Law, the Environmental Protection Law, the Fishery Law and Marine Transport Law. Under these laws, any proposed action within the property that could have significant impact on the property’s values must have official approval from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, along with other relevant ministries.

Therefore, Ha Long Bay is well-protected legally.Site Design Ha Long Bay’s size is about 150,000 ha and most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. It also has a very diverse ecosystem. Ha Long Bay can be divided into two major ecosystems, which are the forest ecosystems of tropical moist evergreen and coastal and marine ecology. Even though the buffer area in Ha Long Bay is quite big, however, there are still worries about the ecological environment in Ha Long Bay declining due to pollution. Although, issues relating to industrial developments outside the property, including coal mining, cement production, port development and road construction, have been successfully addressed in 2014 by the management authorities. There is also development of a plan for implementing integrated management of the property and its buffer zone.

3. Key issues in adaptation planningTo predict accurate climate change scenarios and analyze suck risk to prepare for adaptation planning, developers have to take into account these key issues according to Perry and Falzon (2014, p.47-48):1. Ensure that you take into account the dynamics of climate change when developing management plans.

2. Review the zoning system for your site.3. Review the laws and regulations that may have an impact on the effectiveness of your management and ability to adapt.

In the case of Ha Long Bay, statistics and data are being conducted frequently for future predictions, especially in the case of sea level rise and flood events. The data predicts the disappearance or collapse of some limestones and islands, therefore, management plans are focusing on higher-level ones. Laws and regulations are also being applied to nearby facilities that may pollute the water. Since Ha Long Bay is a unique landscape and one of the most popular tourist destination of Vietnam, developers are serious on sustainable tourism with detailed adaptation planning discussed in the following section.4. Climate change scenariosAccording to World Bank’s warning, because of Greenhouse effect, ice melting in Greenland and West Antarctic and underground water development, sea level could rise up to 5m in the next years which could sink Ha Long Bay (Minh Thuy, 2007). In addition, Quang Ninh’s annual temperature has risen by 0.1 C with increase in intense sunny days and heavy rains (Thu Trang, 2017).

These change has affected both Ha Long Bay’s environment and tourism greatly. Detailed change is discussed in the below table, following the analysis example from Perry and Falzon (2014, p.51), with information used from documentary video by VTV1 in 2016:StatementsWhich could mean…Resulting in…”In the recent 50 years, sea level have risen about 8.5cm.””Increase in storms and super storm””In 2100, sea level could rise about 90-100cm.

” Ø  Limestone erosionØ  Intense impact from heavy rain and storm to limestone’s structureØ  Sea level will be higher than many cavesØ  Collapse of limestone pillars (Hon But, Hon Kim, Hon Nen)Ø  Landslide from broken limestoneØ  Disappearance of caves”Hang Trinh Nu (a cave in Ha Long) is suffered change because of heavy rain and humidity”Ø  Creation of new solid layer from chemistry reaction Ø  Submergence and destruction of cave and its cultural relics”Sea water is highly turbid”Ø  Sunlight could not reach coralsØ  Changes to marine biologyØ  Coral bleachingØ  Death of coralsØ  Loss of coral diversityØ  Loss of habitat and associated species5. Analyze the riskContinue to use the model proposed by Perry and Falzon (2014, p.53), we will now analyze the risks of these climate change situations to Ha Long Bay’s OUV.

According to criterion vii and viii, notable OUV features that will be analyzed are limestone, karst and caves; other features such as coral reef and marine species will also be included. Estimation of probability and significance are based on risk evaluation by World Bank (as cited in Minh Thuy, 2007), Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi (as cited in Gia Minh, 2008), VTV1 broadcast (2016).OUV featureDescription of impactProbabilitySignificanceLimestone and karstIncreasing storm events causes break in structureHighMediumRisen sea level causes collapse of some pillarsMediumHighCavesRisen sea level causes submergence of some cavesMediumHighCoral reefMass coral bleachingMediumMediumMarine speciesChange in habitat because of loss of corals leads to loss of species diversityLowMedium6. Future plan for adaptation a. Selection and prioritize actionsFrom the risk analyzing table, it is best suggested that adaptation plans should focus on protecting the integrity and originality of limestone, karst and caves. Therefore, we will now discuss about prioritizing management actions at Ha Long Bay with framework again provided by Perry and Falzon (2014, p.

56).Possible response actionsCriteriaPriority actionImpact on other OUV featuresTechnical expertiseLogisticsHuman resourcesTimeFinanceNo actionHn——Monitoring limestone and karst condition-HMMHMADeveloping protection against heavy rain and stormsHpHHHHHAPurifying waterMHHMHMBMonitoring and preventing water pollutionMMMHHLCMonitoring human interaction with OUV features such as coal mining, over fishing and tourismMHHHMMBMonitoring water temperature and coral condition-MHMMLDMultiplication and protection of marine species-HHHHMCNote: In the first column, there are high impacts on OUV features that are both positive (Hp) and negative (Hn).To justify the scoring, it is obvious that doing nothing is not an option since Ha Long Bay is too valuable for Vietnam tourism. The two actions that are ranked A are justified because of the importance of the OUV features (limestone, karst and caves) while “Developing protection against heavy rain and storms” are considered to be beneficial to other features such as coral reef and marine species as well. B-ranked actions are also important for preservation of Ha Long Bay’s beauty in overall. Other actions are ranked C and D mostly due to the fact that it is effective only after conducting the prioritized actions first.

b. Implementation and monitoringSome of the suggest management plans above have been conducted or scheduled to be conducted. Actions are categorized in five aspects, according to Ha Long Bay Management Board (as cited in Vietnam Tourism Environment, 2017):The first one is regarding propagation as in raising awareness and education on Ha Long Bay environment.

This will help on preventing water pollution as well as reducing coal mining, over fishing and tourism exploitation.The second one is international collaboration to get technical expertise, logistics and finance on development plans such as monitoring natural resources, purifying water and moving towards sustainable tourism.The third one is about projects, investments and technology application. “Ha Long Bay Heritage Features Management Plan 2011-2015” was in work with specific goals in 2020. Technology was used in monitoring tourism, water pollution and monitoring weather impacts.

The fourth one is in terms of science research, survey and data. Ha Long Bay Management Board has conducted collaboration with many universities, research centers and scientists from both Vietnam and foreign countries to conduct many researches. Focused research topics are geological process and geodynamic impacts on caves, along with landslide and erosion of limestone and karsts in order to be used as a basis for the Management Board to developing suitable plans. Other researches are on marine ecosystem and their endangerment level; water pollution; weather forecasting. The fifth and last one is regarding human resources. Most actions required high staff capacity, therefore, the board is training people to meet up to the demand of development plans.

Additional plans are about patrolling to manage human impacts and encouraging foreign investment on management plans. CONCLUSIONHa Long bay are now facing with numerous problems and therefore it is impossible to deal with them at once. It is advisable to identify the top-priority issues that are threatening the bay the most ,which are matters around the limestone caves and karsts, to handle first since caves and karst make the most out of Ha long bay. Also by doing so, the other assets will at the same time become better in one way or another. In addition, the bay’s managerial board is heading toward more sustainable tourism, which means to get more serious on human related matters such as tourists’ awareness, local people’s activities within the bay and managerial patrol force.

In the meantime, expertise scientific researches are also conducted  in order to find resolutions for the undergoing nature-related issues. Last but not least, the Bay management board is restricting their policies to be more sustainable, which means the exploitation activities within the bay including mining, fishing , tourism are to be limited for the greater good of Ha Long bay. Ha Long bay is considered to be the diamond of Viet Nam tourism so if actions are not taken in time to save the bay, we will lost the bay which also means a huge loss for the national tourism.