At the edge of Dong Hoi lies a quiet area, a fresh water lake surrounded by protection forest. The lake, called Bau Tro, is a natural lake that contains fresh water even though it’s less than 300 meter from the sea, and that is an important source of fresh water for the city. For that reason, the area is well guarded, and it’s forbidden to cut any tree in it, or otherwise use the forest or the lake. The forest is managed by the Bau Tro Protection Forest Management Board. The lake itself is managed by another city government department. One of the reasons for that is the area is also culturally important. It’s a site where artefacts have been found of at least 5,000 years old. People lived in this area already at that time.
The forest—or perhaps woodland is a better term—consists mainly of the Ironwood tree, Casuarina equisetifolia, and Acacia species. The government uses these species often, and Casuarina in particular, because they stabilise the sand, and grow well in poor sandy soil. The area is, after all, part of the extensive dune formations that line the coast of Quang Binh. These species, however, do not belong to the original species formations that made up coastal forests in Vietnam. On a few places in Quang Binh, remnants of such coastal forest still exist, but almost everywhere, Casuarina and Acacia dominate. On a recent visit to Bau Tro, though, young Melaleuca cajuputi trees were found. This offers one possibility for forest restoration.
The woodland doesn’t seem very rich. It can be assumed that the original forest has a richer biodiversity. Nevertheless, there are birds and insects around. This page shows some of the species that were encountered. An interesting bird is the Blue-throated Bee-eater, Merops viridis. Usually I see the Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Merops philippinus. But it was, the Blue-throated, munching away on an insect of undetermined identification. The distance was a bit too large to get a good view on what the Bee-eater is devouring, but it looks like a dragonfly.