Viet Nam is a country rich in tropical rainforests and monsoon savannah, as well as marine life and mountainous sub-alpine scrubland. The lowland coastal zone is bisected by rugged limestone mountains which separate the generally wetter forest types of the east from the drier forests of the Mekong Basin in the west, creating habitat diversity favorable to a broad range of species compositions. One in ten of the world’s mammals, birds and sh species is found in Viet Nam, and 40 per cent of the country’s plants are endemic. The country grows important cash crops such as tubers, tea and rice – Viet Nam being the world’s second largest rice exporter. It also abounds with domesticated animals such as chickens, pigs and ducks. This balanced diversity of natural and agricultural resources represents the wealth of a unique physical environment and thousands of years of adaptation and selective cultivation and breeding.
In the country’s terrestrial ecosystems, more than 13,200 floral species and about 10,000 faunal species have been identified. Over 3,000 aquatic creatures have been listed in the interior wetlands. The tropical marine ecosystems, of more than 20 different types, are also home to more than 11,000 forms of sea life such as crustaceans, mollusks, among others.
For the past two decades, many new floral and faunal species have been discovered and described. Many of them belong to new genera and species, particularly those of mammals and the Orchidaceae species. New organisms continue to be discovered in Viet Nam. By 2006, Viet Nam’s forest coverage, including natural forests and plantation forests, increased by 38.2 per cent. Forest proportion has become more rational, where 20,000 square kilometers of special-use forest, 50,000 square kilometers of protection forest, and 80,000 square kilometers of production forest now exist.
A system of 128 protected areas has been established and developed in all eco-regions nationwide covering an area of 25,000 square kilometers, or about 7.6 per cent of the total territory. In late 2008, the country’s Prime Minister approved a system of 45 interior protected wetlands. Another system of 15 marine protected areas has also been planned and submitted to the government for approval. Moreover, two World Natural Heritage Sites, four ASEAN Natural Heritage Sites, two Ramsar Wetlands Sites and six Biosphere Reserves have been internationally recognized.