Scientists have found that northern Vietnam is one of the areas most populated by prehistoric plants in East Asia, containing species which have have been around from some dozens to hundreds of million years ago.
|Hoang Lien Son mountain range (Photo: thanuyen.laichau.gov.vn)
The findings were part of a study carried out between 2016 and 2018 by 45 international scientists from nine countries, including those from the Southern Institute of Ecology of Vietnam.
The experts collected data on fossil samples and the current population distribution of 433 ancient plant species, thus going on to discover their distribution fluctuations over the years.
The research identified the most important sites for prehistoric flora as the forest and mountain areas in southwestern China and northern Vietnam, as well as a number of Chinese localities that share a border with Vietnam, like Guangxi, Guangdong, and Hunan.
The climate history of the location, not covered by ice and boasting topographical diversity, have played a key role in helping these plants survive the Last Glacial Maximum – the most recent of which was about 20,000-26,500 years ago when ice sheets were at their greatest extent – and continue to exist until today.
Scientists projected that by 2070, the land mass populated by such plants might be extended, however, the forested areas that once housed the largest part of their population will decline. The southeastern part of China’s Yunnan province and Vietnam’s Hoang Lien Son mountain range are the most important locations for their future existence.
Unfortunately, about 73%-80% of the highly-populated prehistoric planted areas are not included in the protected networks. As such, there is a need to establish more conservation sites in mountainous areas across Vietnam’s Hoang Lien Son range and northern border provinces, as well as China’s southeastern area, its delta in Sichuan province, and the northern part of Yunnan.
In particular, experts suggested that Vietnam make mountainous and forest areas of Hoang Lien Son, Tay Con Linh, and Con Voi mountains and Cao Bang province part of its national park system.