Evaluation of the conservation status and risks for some endangered plant species in Ba Be National Park, B̆ác Kan Province, Vietnam

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Ba Be National Park, in the northern mountainous region of Vietnam, is an important conservation area with numerous rare, endangered and endemic plant and animal species. The plant resources of the park are exploited by local ethnic minority (hill tribe) people to provide food, medicines and wood products; their high birth rate, general ignorance of plant propagation and husbandry and their dependence on the forest resources to maintain a subsistence level of life has placed many plant species in the Park at increasing risk of local extinction. Moreover, many essential plants are becoming so difficult to find that the local peoples’ lifestyle is threatened. This thesis evaluates the socio-economic features of the threat to plant species in the Park, the broad ecological determinants of the distribution of plants in the area and the genetic diversity of a selected number of plant species. The results demonstrate that national and international schemes for the classification of the conservation status of plant species is of limited relevance in the local context and a mixture of national, international and local criteria enabled the compilation of a plant species conservation ranking for the Park. A suite of environmental factors was chosen to investigate their collective influence on plant species distribution; the main determinants of floristic composition appear to be topography and disturbance, with soil factors being important for endangered species, though other factors not measured here may influence species composition at small scales. The genetic diversity of four priority plant species was determined using the Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique and the Random Amplified Microsatellite Polymorphisms (RAMP) technique was used to further investigate genetic diversity in two of the four species; the latter proved somewhat more useful in distinguishing between populations than the former. A preliminary evaluation of the location of high-genetic-diversity populations and individuals should allow an informed selection of source plants for future propagation. Some recommendations on future management of the National Park are made.
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