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Preserving heritage trees in Da Nang to attract tourists

17 February 2024 | 06:02:00 AM

Each heritage tree showcases rich culture and history of a locality where it was planted. The Marble Mountains Tourist Area special national-level relic site and the Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang possess 7 ancient trees which have been recognized as heritage trees by the Viet Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment (VACNE).

 They are an over 600-year-old ‘Sop’ (ficus pisocarpa blume) tree (the "oldest" in the Marble Mountains and located behind the Linh Ung Pagoda), a 205 -year- old 'Thi' (diospyros decandra) tree (behind Tam Thai pagoda, two ‘Bo ket’ (locust) trees (between 160 and 210 years old, in the Tang Chon Cave), a terminalia catappa trees, and a 800-year-old banyan tree. Preserving heritage trees not only contributes to raising awareness on the importance of cultural and historical heritage preservation in local communities, but also protecting landscapes and preserving biodiversity.

Among the city's heritage trees is the banyan tree in the Son Tra Peninsula, and it has 36 large and small aerial roots that hang from its branches to the ground. Photo: D.H.L

The drizzle has begun to appear in Da Nang to close up the lunar year of 2023, signaling the transition from winter to spring. It is also the time when the ancient trees on the Thuy Son (the Mountain of Water) of the Marble Mountains scenic spot produces buds. This is a sign that spring is approaching. In these days leading to the Lunar New Year 2024, tourist groups from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan (China) have visited this tourist site to explore the heritage trees.

The centuries-old trees

The first impression that the Linh Ung Pagoda located at the foot of the Thuy Son makes on its visitors is a sacred space covered with canopy of an ancient banyan tree with luxuriant branches that provides shelter from rain. This tree is the silent witness to the history of the heroic land of Hoa Hai, helping us see the traces left by our ancestors.

A male tourist from Taiwan (China) expressed his admiration for the centuries-old banyan tree. "I am truly amazed at what can be seen on a high limestone mountain where a hundred-year-old banyan tree was planted. Hundred-year-old or thousand-year-old trees are eternal witnesses to stories of the Marble Mountains,” he said.

According to Mr. Thai Hai Chung, a member of the Marble Mountains Tourist Site Management Board, many foreign are very interested with the aesthetically pleasing environment created by a hundred-year-old banyan tree and two more than 200 year- old locust trees in the Tang Chon Cave. These are precious tree species that beautify this tourist site and provide comfortable shaded areas to park visitors. As the two locust trees were grown in a limestone mountain and have a lifespan of more than 200 years, they no longer bear any fruits but still beautify the landscape and provide shade, cooling the areas around them.

“Previously, there had been three ancient locust trees in the Tang Chon Cave. However, the top of one of the three trees broke off due to last year's storm Noru. Current, the Thuy Son has a total of 6 ancient trees which have been recognized as heritage trees by VACNE, including two almond trees, two locust trees, one banyan tree and one thimble tree. Most of these trees are over 100 years old, of which, the banyan tree is over 300 years old," Mr. Thai Hai Chung explained.

Apart from the six heritage trees in the Marble Mountains scenic spot, the 800-year-old banyan tree in the Son Tra peninsula was also recognized in May 2014 as a heritage tree by VACNE. Previously, local people had called this tree "the thousand- year-old banyan tree" but it has been labeled "Heritage banyan tree" after being certified by VACNE,

According to the Management Board of the Son Tra Peninsula and Da Nang tourist beaches, the heritage banyan tree on the Son Tra Peninsula stands over 22 meters tall and 85 meters in diameter at its main and secondary trunks. The tree has a beautiful root system with nearly 36 large and small secondary root clusters, of which, 26 large secondary roots reach the ground. Currently, the heritage banyan tree is a stop on the list of Da Nang’s attractions on a tour to explore the Son Tra Peninsula which is being offered by tour operators to serve domestic and foreign tourists. Banyan trees are great, natural edifices rich in cultural, spiritual and folkloric symbolism as well as practical usages. They also traditionally stood at village gates, in market places, communal houses and places of spiritual gathering, such as shrines and pagodas. Banyans are majestic and beautiful, exotic and heroic, mysterious and magnificent in Viet Nam.

Protecting heritage trees to attract tourists

Through our observations, heritage trees are easily affected by natural disasters and human activities. In its efforts to avoid the risk of harming these trees such as carving on tree roots, the Management Board of the Son Tra Peninsula and Da Nang tourist beaches has set up a security team to protect these trees. The 3-member team are working on a rotating shift from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day. In addition to guiding tourists, the security team also performs the task of ensuring security, preventing wildfires, removing vegetation under the trees, especially preventing young people from entering the forest, and carving into the tree trunk.

Talking about the protection of the heritage banyan tree in the Son Tra Peninsula, Mr. Le Minh Viet, a member of the Son Tra Security Team under the Management Board of the Son Tra Peninsula and Da Nang Tourist Beaches, said that, the heritage banyan tree attracts around 100-200 visitors on weekdays, and more than 200 ones at weekends.

"To ensure safety of visitors as well as ensure the security in the Son Tra Peninsula, our team regularly remind visitors not to cut down trees, break branches, not carve into tree trunks, not spread tarpaulins on the ground for eating or not light campfires around this heritage tree," Mr. Viet emphasized.

Recently, the Management Board of the Son Tra Peninsula and Da Nang Tourist Beaches has worked with relevant units to preserve the heritage banyan tree for tourism development.

"In the future, new developments around this tree will be delivered to tourists, including a stroll garden and fences, railings, and lookout towers in a bid to provide the best possible service for tourists, and effectively protect the heritage banyan tree," Mr. Phan Minh Hai, the Deputy Head of the Management Board of the Son Tra Peninsula and Da Nang Tourist Beaches remarked.

Compared to the heritage banyan tree on the Son Tra Peninsula, the heritage trees on the Thuy Son of the Marble Mountains are at greater risk of suffering damage as most of them are grown on a limestone mountain that is directly exposed to the sea breeze.

Mr. Nguyen Van Hien, the Head of the Marble Mountains Tourist Area Management Board said: "The heritage trees are currently grown in rather unfavorable environment. If the foot of Thuy Son sees wind gusts at level 10, its peak will experience gusts at levels 12 to 13. Meanwhile, Thuy Son is a limestone mountain which is located close to the sea so it often experiences storms during the rainy season. To better protect the trees from insects and other damage, the Management Board has taken effective measures to provide good care for these trees," Mr. Nguyen Van Hien added.

Heritage trees have long played an important role in the cultural lives of Vietnamese people. They are important in giving historical identity and cultural symbolic to the landscape of the localities. Recognition of heritage trees will contribute to raising environmental awareness in local communities, as well as encouraging them to do their part for Mother Nature, while widely promoting species richness, diversity and scientific value of the flora to the public. It also helps protect plant genetic resources, as well as spreads important message about environmental protection efforts by engaging local communities in caring for and preserving heritage trees.

Heritage trees while valuable from an ecological perspective, are also living cultural artefacts that connect the city’s past to the present. Therefore, local residents should take pride in the city’s heritage trees that are part of the history of their city itself. Hence, we show gratitude to our ancestors by doing our part in protecting heritage trees

Heritage trees are also of value in tourism as they serve as unique cultural tourism products to attract tourists.

Reporting by Doan Hao Luong – Translating by H.L

Source: Da Nang Today - - February 8, 2024

Views: 201

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