Bau Tro Lake

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.

Photo impressions of biodiversity of UP campus, Los Baños, the Philippines

My work led me to the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) in Los Baños, the Philippines. It is located on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). The campus lies just below Mount Makiling Forest Reserve, an ASEAN Heritage Park. While the campus clearly is a used and inhabited area, it has forest and park landscape elements, and at least two creeks run through the area. Via the main gate of the university one enters the campus and can walk up a winding road that passes by the Makiling Botanical Gardens and brings you to the entrance of the forest reserve. The road continues and passes by the Mud Spring and onwards to the summit. The photos in this post are shot in the campus area or in the botanical garden.

Biodiversity in a city – Abidjan

Cities can hold a surprising amount of biodiversity. Abidjan, in Côte d’Ivoire, may not instantly come to mind as one where one can see much nature. And indeed, if you walk the streets of the center, it’s mostly buildings and cars that attract the eye. However, I had the good fortune to spend some time in hotel Sol Beni, in M’Pouto, that lies at the shore of an arm of the lagoon in which Abidjan is located. Walks in the morning were enjoyable and showed that this city of millions still holds a wide variety of life.

Biodiversity in a ricefield area

One does not have to go far to find an amazing array of biodiversity, even in a big city. This post however, contains some images of animals just about ten minutes cycling from where I live. These animals are not always big. Egrets can be fairly large, but spiders and dragonflies are not. This particular ricefield area, aside from having this large array of species, also provides rest and food to bird species that makes yearly migrations from north to south and vice versa. It mainly concerns waders such as the Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), the Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) or the Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago). They are included in the images below.