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Spotlight Series: Hoa Do Thi Hong & the Ecological Corridor of the Bidoup, Vietnam FDP

Hoa Do Thi Hong is a PhD student in ecology at the Southern Institute of Ecology and the Graduate University of Science and Technology, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.  She attended the 2019 ForestGEO Annual Analytical Workshop, and, when she’s not studying forest dynamics, she enjoys painting.    

When did you realize you wanted to be a scientist/work in forest ecology? How did you decide to go down this career path?

Since I was in primary and secondary school, I’ve been quite good at maths.  I later chose maths to be the focus for my future career. However, suffering a serious illness in high school made me realize the value of life, and I became fascinated with the  study of  human body systems, ecosystems, etc. Biology helps me understand how beautiful life is. Each living organism in the forest interacts  and connects with others, and the result is a gorgeous life. It is undeniable that forests play a pivotal part in our life, thus I really love to work in forest ecology to explore new things. To date, I have visited many forests in Vietnam for field work, including: Cat Tien National Park, Vinh Cuu Nature Reserve, Phu Quoc National Park, and Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park. Prior to my PhD, I spent four years working in NGOs on wildlife protection, such as Wildlife At Risk (WAR) and Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV).  I also have many years of experience in lecturing and working on many environment and ecology related projects.

Photo caption below.
Hoa at the Bidoup FDP

What led you down the path to your current job? What has been your biggest challenge in getting to this point in your career?

I earned a Bachelor degree in biotechnology and a Master’s degree in ecology from Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City - University of Science. Currently I am a PhD student in forest ecology at SIE, and Dr. Hong Truong Luu, the PI of the Bidoup, Vietnam plot, gives me an excellent chance to work in the plot.

My biggest challenge in getting to this point is how to balance my research/work and life. I am a single mom and taking care of a 6 year-old daughter while studying and researching in the forest is a very big deal. Working for a long time in the forest can be a real challenge, but I have to give my thankfulness to Dr. Hong Truong Luu and our team who support me a lot in collecting data.

When did you first get involved in the ForestGEO network?

Dr. Hong Truong Luu, PI of Bidoup Forest Dynamics Plot, encouraged me to apply to attend the 2019 ForestGEO Annual Analytical Workshop, which was held at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. It was an amazing opportunity for me to receive more training  in forest data analysis and broaden  my horizons and to work with the best mentors, Dr. Stuart J. Davies and Dr. Sabrina Russo, as well as about 50 researchers and specialists from different countries around the world.

What is the most interesting or unique aspect of your site?

I work at Bidoup Forest Dynamics Plot in Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park, which is located in the center of three important protected areas: Chu Yang Sin National Park in the North, Phuoc Binh National Park in the East, and Lam Vien Landscape Reserve in the South. Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park contributes to the conservation of biodiversity of the larger area in its role as a corridor among the three protected areas. The Park is endowed with a forest ecosystem typical to sub-tropical high mountain climate – that is,  a wide variety of biodiversity:  mountain evergreen tropical rain forest, coniferous & broad-leaved mixed forest, high mountain dwarf forest, low mountain subtropical coniferous, sparse forest, mossy forest, and bamboo-broadleaved mixed forest. This area is upstream of two important rivers: the Dong Nai River and the Srepok River, both of which flow into the Mekong River. The plot [a subsection of the larger Park] was established in coniferous and broad-leaved mixed forest with elevation from 1,520 m to 1,580 m. The area around the plot includes special-use forests and protected forests. Pinus krempfii (a conifer), which is an endemic species of Vietnam, has greater mean AGB [aboveground biomass] than other species in the study site, but only a few stems are present - most have large DBH [diameter at breast height].

Photo caption below.
Msc. Dang Minh Tri, a project coordinator of SIE identifying trees of the Bidoup Plot.

What kind of capacity building opportunities does your site provide for students, early-career researchers, and the local community?

Dr. Hong Truong Luu has assembled a network of collaborators, including undergraduates, PhD students, foresters from Chu Yang Sin National Park and Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park, and local community (K’Ho ethnic group) members to create opportunities to cooperate and support the long-term data collection.

Photo caption below.
Measuring diameter at Bidoup Plot. Ô Rêm (a member of the local K'Ho ethnic community) is on the left and Do Thi Ngoc Oanh (an intern at Bidoup) is on the right.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying forest dynamics? 

I take part in natural resources environmental protection projects, as well as being a lecturer in Ecology and Biology. In my free time, I listen to music and audio books, make paintings, and swim for relaxation.

Web PresenceSouthern Institute of Ecology | Graduate University of Science and Technology, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology

Selected Publications

Vien Ngoc Nam, Do Thi Hong Hoa2016Structure and diversity of woody plants in Sub-area 21, Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Journal of Forest and Environment, 80: 14 – 20.

Do Thi Hong Hoa, Vien Ngoc Nam, Luu Hong Truong.  2018Forest Structure and a Sustainable Management Solution at the Permanent Plot in Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park, Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering, B 7 (8): 298-307.  DOI:10.17265/2162-5263/2018.08.003