As Traveler's Wonderings Before Cycling Cat Tien National Park 2 days, you are able to learn further the nature and climate in most of the tropical lands in Southeast Asia Countries by visiting Vietnam's Wetland Forest.
Cát Tiên National Park (Vietnamese: Vườn Quốc Gia Cát Tiên) is a national park located in the south of Vietnam, approximately 150 km north of Ho Chi Minh City. It has an area of about 720 square km and protects one of the largest areas of lowland tropical forests left in Vietnam.
The surrounding of Cat Tien area was originally occupied by the Chau Ma people - especially in the area that is now Cat Loc Hamlet (in the 1960s eastern Nam Cat Tien was described as "inhabité - uninhabited") and Stieng people in western Dong Nai Province. After the formation of the Park, many of these people were re-settled in Talai village, to the south-west of Nam Cat Tien.
Cat Tien National Park was protected initially in 1978 as two sectors, Nam Cat Tien and Tay Cat Tien. Another sector, Cat Loc, was gazetted as a rhinoceros reserve in 1992 upon the discovery of a population of the Vietnamese Javan rhinoceros, an occasion that brought the park into the world's eye. The three areas were combined to form one park in 1998. Nam Cat Tien is contiguous with Vĩnh Cửu nature reserve thus providing an enlarged area for species to breed. The forest is now protected by the Kiểm lâm (VN Forest Rangers) with responsibilities for managing poaching, fire control, and other issues.
Parts of the park area suffered historically during the Vietnam War when it was extensively sprayed with defoliant herbicides. However, substantial further damage was done by logging up until the 1990s. To this day these areas have extensive bamboo and grassland cover and trees have not yet grown back.
The Cat Tien archaeological site is located just outside the park boundary on the northern bank of the Dong Nai river (between Cat Loc and Nam Cat Tien, facing in to the latter). Excavations carried out between 1994 and 2003 revealed a group of temples, belonging to a previously unknown Hindu civilization which probably inhabited the area between the 4th century and 9th centuries AD (possibly later). A large number of a number of gold, bronze, ceramic, coloured stone, and glass artefacts, are currently displayed in the Da Lat museum.
Cat Tien National Park consists of seasonal tropical forests, grasslands and riparian areas, with Park Authorities identifying five major habitat types as follows:
1. Primary evergreen forest areas perhaps comprise only about 2% of the Nam Cat Tien area; can be highly diverse but are dominated by trees in two families (for other Families and Species see below):
- Fabaceae: Afzelia xylocarpa (Caesalpinoidea) and rosewoods (Papilionoideae): including the endemic Dalbergia mammosa.
- Dipterocarpaceae: notably Dipterocarpus alatus, which occurs naturally, but with a good survival rate, it is widely used for replanting; Hopea odorata is also used for replanting.
2. Primary and secondary mixed or deciduous forest (dry season): Where soils are well-drained the following trees are common:
- Lagerstroemia calyculata (Lythraceae),
- Tetrameles nudiflora (Tetramelaceae), of there are spectacularly large specimen trees,
- Anogeissus acuminata (Combretaceae).
- The abundance L. calyculata is discussed by Blanc et al. especially as an indicator of secondary forest. "It appears to be a very good competitive species able to regenerate on denuded areas: along roads and on land abandoned after cultivation. Human disturbances have mostly affected Dipterocarpaceae for resin and Fabaceae for their wood."
- The low canopy and under-story zones contains species such as the endemic Cycas inermis; a number of palms are common, including Caryota mitis, Licuala and Pinanga spp., together with a wide range of fruit species (important food for animals) such as figs (e.g. Ficus racemosa) and wild bananas (Musa acuminata).
- Cycas inermis in CTNP with megaspores.
3. Secondary forest with abundant bamboo species: this due to human activity, the forest having been degraded by logging, forest fires and in some areas war-time defoliants, which have caused the forest canopy to be replaced with bamboos. Common trees include Lagerstroemia calyculata, Mesua sp. and Xylia xylocarpa, with bamboo species present.
4. Bamboo forest (some 40% of the Park area) may also have been affected by human activity, including areas where forest was previously cleared for subsistence agriculture creating favourable conditions for bamboos; species include: Bambusa balcooa, B. procera, and Gigantochloa spp.
5. Seasonally flooded grasslands: CTNP has substantial (approximately 10%) area of grassland (including disused farmland) and wetlands.
In the rainy season, Dong Nai river water floods into an area of 2,500 ha area of northern Nam Cat Tien, along the Da Kluo which is a reverse flow stream (like Tonlé Sap) replenishing the lakes: Bau Sau (crocodile lake), Bau Chim, Bau Co and the surrounding grasslands.
In the flat eastern half of Nam Cat Tien especially, there are a number of swamps (see above) surrounding isolated, poorly-drained small open areas – typically 3-10 ha - that might best be described as wet meadows - that are often surrounded with swamp forest and may also contain vernal pools.
👉 Lianas and Epiphytes:
As in most seasonal tropical forests the Park has an abundance of epiphytes (such as ferns, orchids and 'ant plants' such as Myrmecodia). Lianas are abundant and include: Ancistrocladus tectorius, box beans: Entada spp., 'monkey ladders': Lasiobema scandens and Rattans: especially Calamus spp. in wet areas.
👉 Riparian Areas:
In flat lowland areas and especially along streams, areas of freshwater swamp forest notable tree species often include: Ficus benjamina, Livistona saribus, Crateva, Syzygium and Horsfieldia spp. Naturally occurring patches of Bambusa blumeana (tre gai or tre la ngà) are also abundant in riparian areas and flooding forest. Other plants include Schumannianthus dichotomus ("cool mat") which occurs in muddy areas along streams.
👉 Scientific and Conservation Activities:
Numerous endemic species, having their type locality at Cat Tien Park, have been described by Vietnamese and international scientists: including those at the Vietnam-Russia Tropical Centre. More than 20 species of organisms have the name "catienensis" or similar, including two palms (Licuala illustrated here), the bracket fungus Tomophagus cattienensis, two reptiles and 4 insects to date.
Between the Park headquarters and Ta Lai village there are substantial replanting areas, including a 200 ha area supported by European Community between 1996-98.