U Minh Thuong National
Alternative site name(s)
Upper U Minh
9o31' - 9o40'N, 105o04' - 105o08'E
From Ho Chi Minh City
From Can Tho City
Bird watching. Contact
us for more information
Topography and hydrology
U Minh Thuong National Park is located
in An Minh Bac commune of An Minh district, and Minh Thuan
commune of Vinh Thuan district, Kien Giang province, 365
km south-west of Ho Chi Minh City. U Minh Thuong
National Park is located in the plain of the Mekong
Delta, and the site reaches only a few metres in elevation.
U Minh Thuong or upper U Minh, is the northern
of two extensive peatswamp areas in Kien Giang and Ca Mau
provinces. The other peatswamp area, U Minh Ha
or lower U Minh, is situated 30 km to the
U Minh Thuong National Park is situated
in an area of freshwater wetlands, comprising peatswamp
forest, seasonally inundated grassland and open swamp. The
soil layer is covered by a layer of peat, 1 to 3 m thick.
The core zone of U Minh Thuong National Park
is surrounded by a perimeter canal and dyke system, with
a series of gates, which are used to manage the water level.
Water is released during the rainy season but, at other
times of the year, water is retained.
U Minh Thuong National Park supports
one of the last significant areas of peatswamp forest remaining
in Vietnam, and is recognised as one of the three highest
priority sites for wetland conservation in the Mekong Delta.
Scientists have classified the vegetation of the core zone
into four types: forest dominated by Melaleuca cajuputi
on both peat and mineral soils; seasonally inundated grasslands
dominated by Phragmites vallatoria and Eleocharis dulcis;
open swamps dominated by Nymphaea nouchali, Pistia stratiotes,
Salvinia cucullata and Typha domingensis; and natural streams
and canals. The vegetation of the buffer zone consists of
seasonally inundated grassland, open swamps, Melaleuca plantations,
agricultural land, fishponds and canals.
U Minh Thuong harbours a diversity of flora, including many
rare and endemic species. 226 species of non-cultivated
vascular plants has been recorded. Among these is the duckweed,
Lemna tenera, which is rare throughout its range in South-East
Asia but common at U Minh Thuong.
The forest and wetlands at U Minh Thuong
support many rare and endangered animal species.
A preliminary survey conducted in March 2000 obtained
evidence of the continued occurrence of the globally data
deficient Hairy-nosed Otter Lutra sumatrana at U
Minh Thuong. The survey team also found evidence
of Oriental Small-clawed Otter Aonyx cinerea, Sunda Pangolin
Manis javanicus and Large-spotted Civet Viverra megaspila
at U Minh Thuong.
The conservation importance of U Minh Thuong National
Park is further highlighted by the high bird diversity.
During a survey of wetland sites in the Mekong Delta by
BirdLife International and the Institute of Ecology and
Biological Resources, U Minh Thuong had the highest bird
species richness of any of the sites visited. To date, 187
bird species have been recorded at U Minh Thuong,
including nine globally threatened or near-threatened species:
Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Spot-billed Pelican
Pelecanus philippensis, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala,
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, Black-headed Ibis
Threskiornis melanocephalus, Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus,
Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Grey-headed Fish Eagle
Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus and Asian Golden Weaver Ploceus
U Minh Thuong also supports globally significant
congregations of a number of commoner waterbird species,
including Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, Little Cormorant
Phalacrocorax niger, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Glossy
Ibis Plegadis falcinellus. For these reasons, U Minh Thuong
qualifies as an Important Bird Area
Other documented values
The Melaleuca forest in the core zone of U Minh
Thuong National Park plays an important role in
maintaining the soil and water quality in the buffer zone
by preventing the acidification of topsoil and surface water,
filtering ground water, and storing freshwater during the
dry season. In addition, at least eight species of economically
valuable fish are found at U Minh Thuong. By providing these
services, the U Minh Thuong wetlands make an important contribution
to the livelihood security of poor households in the buffer
U Minh Thuong National Park has historical
values because the area was used as a base by resistance
forces during the First and Second Indochina Wars. Due to
the almost complete loss of natural forest in the Mekong
Delta region, U Minh Thuong is one of the few places
where visitors can see the landscape as it was at the time.
In addition, archaeological remains dating back to the Oc
Eo civilisation have been found in the area.