Our planet is brimming with life. From bees to crocodiles to trees to grasses to tiny little microorganisms to yes, even humans, our world is truly awesome in the amount of life it supports.
And even more incredible is how we are all intertwined, in ways even the most knowledgeable of us don’t fully understand. This abundance of living things is called biodiversity and it’s critical to life on earth.
Protecting biodiversity impacts literally every aspect of life, from breathable air to climate, flood protection, shelter, food sources and more, which rely on the health and stability of natural resources like forests, waterways, and grasslands. The health of these elements depends on the diversity of species that interact with them and vice versa. Removing a part of the ecosystem or multiple parts of the system will inevitably cause collapse and dire consequences for many species, including humans.
Global Discovery Expeditions, a program of Greater Good Charities, is dedicated to exploring, studying, and protecting key biodiversity hotspots facing immanent threat and loss by providing the initial key step in conservation – the observation and recording of living species within an ecosystem. This June, Global Discovery Expeditions will expand its work into Vietnam.
To date, the program has compiled more than 60,000 records into the program’s database, which is a public, all-species database, used for current and future research, environmental education, and habitat protection.
The expedition in Vietnam will center on the Sao La Nature Reserve, a globally recognized key biodiversity area in the He province on a northern flank of mountains that are part of the Annamite Mountain chain. Greater Good Charities will have three scientists that will join eight Vietnamese scientists on the ground, with a goal of obtaining over 1,000 records.
Vietnam is located on the Indochina Peninsula at the point where Southeast Asia’s tropical ecosystems meet the temperate ecosystems of mainland Asia. This diversity offers an ideal environment for a variety of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. In fact, according to the World Wildlife Fund and Nature & Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA), Vietnam is one of the 16 most biodiverse countries in the world. Made up of lush forests and mountains, the country is home to an estimated 50,000 species of plants and animals.
Unfortunately, many of these species are heading towards extinction due to loss of habitat, deforestation, hunting, pollution, and illegal wildlife trade. Some reports estimate that up to 21 percent of mammal species, 6.5 percent of birds, 19 percent of reptiles, 24 percent of amphibians, 38 percent of fish and 2.5 percent of vascular plants is under threat in Vietnam.
Some of the animal species in imminent danger include Pangolins, hunted for their meat and scales; Pygmy Slow Loris, poached for tourist trade as pets; Saolas, an exciting, newly discovered species, which is already on the critically endangered list; Indochinese Tigers and Siamese Crocodiles that are losing their habitat; and Indochinese Box Turtles, hunted for medicinal and other purposes.
In addition, in Vietnam, hundreds of known plant species are in danger, including valuable native tree species like Vietnamese golden cypress, Magnolias, and the extremely desirable Rosewood, a heavily exploited tree used for high- end furniture and decorative products, that is now dwindling in Vietnam and across the world. Flora, like wild orchids, are traded heavily (and often illegally) in city markets and now many are in danger because of over-harvesting and natural habitat loss.
Saving plant and animal species in Vietnam has far reaching impact across the globe. Please consider donating to help us protect and conserve endangered species and support biodiversity now and for generations to come.