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Hue Wants Two Cable Cars in Bach Ma National Park. Experts Are Concerned.

Numerous experts have spoke out against the approved plans, citing a variety of reasons of damage to Vietnam's priceless natural area. 

The VND1.5 trillion (US$66 million) tourism project that was approved in 2014 includes two cable cars and more than 450 hectares of land devoted to recreation and accommodation. Last year, Thua Thien-Hue authorities submitted a plan detailing the changes made to the Bach Ma National Park. One cable car will span more than four kilometers, taking tourists from inside the park to the peak of the Bach Ma Mount. The other, which is 1.6 kilometers long, runs from the peak to the top of a waterfall.

The proposal was met with disapproving remarks from representatives of different sectors condemning it as an irresponsible cash grab. La Thi Kim Ngan, former deputy head of Vietnam Institute for Urban and Rural Planning (VIUP) said that the four-kilometer cable car to the mountain peak, in particular, was unnecessary. Nguyen Xuan Hoa, former director of the province’s culture department supported her assessment. 

Others expressed concern about the overall environmental impact of the construction and operation. There are calls for environmental impact assessments before construction begins and Nguyen Ngoc Lung, head of the Research Institute for Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification wondered: “Can the investor fulfill the task of preserving the natural habitat in Bach Ma?”

Last year, in the face of similar criticism, Hoang Viet Trung, deputy director of the Thua Thien-Hue Office of Planning and Investment claimed: “The resort will have international standards. It will respect nature while boosting Bach Ma’s development."

The tourism money and spillover development that these projects bring to the local, often impoverished, areas are usually used to justify the risks. Experts like Ngan, however, say that these benefits can still come to the region if the project is slightly relocated and its scope changed. Moreover, the developer's claim that it will attract 50,000 annual visitors has been questioned

Bach Ma National Park, located an hour south of Hue, was established in 1991 and is one of the country's richest ecosystems in terms of biodiversity. It was recently selected as the site for the first-ever saola breeding center but a brand new expressway set to open this year is already gashing through the pristine environment. 

[Photo via HayTravel

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