Study to define Karst Disturbance Index in Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park

Karst is a special kind of environmental landscape, which can bring many benefits in terms of economics, science, education, entertainment and aesthetics. The karst environment plays an especially important role in the history of the Earth"s development. With outstanding values, many karst areas in the world have been recognized by UNESCO as World Natural Heritage. However, this natural resource is vulnerable; especially vulnerable to human activities.

At present, with rapid urbanization coupled with high demand for cultural entertainment, many human activities are taking place on the surface and underground karst, leading to the risk of disturbance of the karst and threaten to destroy this resource. Consequently, research to preserve karst areas is always interested in investment. The Karst Disturbance Index (KDI) was first used in 2005 to assess the full impact of humans on Karst landscape and environment. KDI is being successfully applied in identifying karst environmental threats and is an effective tool for policymaking to protect karst areas.


Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park was recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site twice with outstanding geological, geomorphological and biodiversity values. The state always pays attention to the issue of conservation of karst resources in the park associated with sustainable development. To provide information to help managers find a balance between conservation, exploitation of karst resources and socio-economic development, as well as updating the holistic approach towards geo-ecology-human in the preservation of karst areas in Vietnam, VAST assigned the Institute of Geography to preside over a study on research to define Karst Disturbance Index in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park contributing to protecting and managing sustainable natural resources, Code VAST-CTG.07/14-16. It was carried out from July 2014 to June 2017 by Dr. Vu Thi Minh Nguyet.




karstAfter three years, the project has main following results:


On science: (1) Develop, quantify indicator set and determine karst environment disturbance index (KDI) at the park. The indicator set consists of 17 directives as proposed by Van Baynen and 10 specific indicators for the study area; The indicators have been quantified on a scale of 0-3; (2) Map KDI of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park at the scale of 1:50,000 using ArcGIS software. The KDI map illustrates the karst environment in the core zone and buffer zone of the park; (3) Update the geo-ecological and humanitarian approach in the study of karst environment protection in Vietnam. Provide the basis for further application of KDI research in other karst areas in Vietnam.


Map KDI of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park at the scale of 1:50,00
Application: Provide useful and scientific information and propose comprehensive and specific management solutions to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in Phong Nha National Park - Ke Bang.


New contributions of the task: The method to determine karst environmental indicators in the national park in particular and Vietnam in general is applied for the first time. The task has been applied creatively, building a set of indicators suitable to the specific characteristics of Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park.


The results have been published at the national and international scientific conferences, including the workshop on Geological Society of America in 2016;  a scientific conference on Phong Nha – Ke Bang, the Conservation and Sustainable Development in 2015; publication on the Journal of Geology. The mission has also trained one Master. With these results, it is suggested to continue applying KDI research in other karst areas in Vietnam, especially those recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, Geology Park and Mixed Natural Heritage.


At the meeting on November 3rd, 2017, the study was approved and assessed well by the VAST-level Science Council.


Translated by Phuong Huyen
Link to Vietnamese version

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