Pu Luong Nature Reserve – Thanh Hoa

Pu Luong Nature Reserve belongs to Quan Hoa and Ba Thuoc districts, in the north-west corner of Thanh Hoa province, north-central Vietnam. The nature reserve includes parts of five communes within Quan Hoa district: Phu Le, Phu Xuan, Thanh Xuan, Hoi Xuan, Phu Nghiem and four communes of Ba Thuoc district: Thanh Son, Thanh Lam, Co Lung and Lung Cao.

To the north-east the nature reserve is bordered by Hoa Binh province, and to the southwest is bordered by remaining land of communes belongs to the nature reseve. Elevations within the nature reserve range from approximately 60m to 1,650 m.a.s.l (above sea level).

The Pu Luong nature reserve covers an area of 17.662 ha, of which natural forest area is 14.934 ha, occupied 84% of nature reserve area. Pu Luong includes a strict protected zone of 13.320 ha, an ecological rehabilitation zone of 4.342 ha and an administration and services area of 1 ha. The strict protection zone of the nature reserve comprises two areas and ecological rehabilitation zone comprises three areas.

Pu Luong Nature Reserve plays an important position in north-west of the Pu Luong – Cuc Phuong limestone range, an global important sample of limestone karst ecology and the last lowland limestone forests and limestone habitat forest in the northen of Vietnam. This interzone creates the shared border areas of the Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa provinces.

The limestone range is thought likely to encompass much of the remaining limestone associated species-richness in northern Vietnam and is recognised as a priority landscape for biodiversity conservation within the lower Mekong eco-region (Batzev, 2001).

The terrain of the nature reserve includes two parallel mountain ranges towards south west – north east, which are seperated from each other by a valley. The main forest habitat in the nature reserve includes karst limestone in the north-east and basaltic rocks in the south-west. The natural vegetation cover which is found in Pu Luong is forests on limestones and basaltic rocks. However, the primary forests here were remarkably reduced due to overexploitation of forest resources. Currently most of the primary forests are the vegetatition cover of secondary forests with five basic levels of hylaea and subtropical forest.

Pu Luong Nature Reserve is perhaps most renowned for remaining populations of the special used primate of Delacour’s Langur Trachypithecus delacouri, which is the second biggest of Vietnam, after Van long Nature Reserve. Their lives are critically threatened and whose numbers have declined to roughly 300 individuals in the wild in nationwide. An estimated total 45 to 53 individuals of the primate are believed to occur in four separate subpopulations at the nature reserve (Tilo Nadler, 2004).

Features of the limestone kast ecosystem in the nature reserve with its difficult terrain, many mountain slopes and severally divided surface have given facilities for fast forming isolated species, especially in classifying species, such as species of orchids, freshwater fish and terestrial snails.

Furthermore, it is characterized by many kinds of habitats and endemic species, special used species and highly rangerestricted species, is the destination of archaeologies, cultures and special natural landscapes.

The landscape of the nature reserve is remaining apparently primary, including Forests and cultural characters, of which the features are clearly identified by beatiful traditional villages with terraced rice fields falling down like a waterfall on a forest background covered by the limestone ranges and cliffs. The forest cover is still high and it is a primary forest.

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