What makes the Annamites so special?
Animal, plant and cultural diversity
Habitat and Species DiversitySituated at the junction of 2 distinct biogeographical zones - the temperate north and the tropical south – the Greater Annamites ecoregion naturally encompasses an incredibly broad, diverse and special range of habitats, animals and plants.
Expansive areas of evergreen forest
The habitats in the area include the characteristic limestone karst landscape, the very dry coastal forests in the south, and the wet and wind-swept montane forests found at the Annamite Mountains’ peaks.
The Annamites are also characterised primarily by the once expansive areas of evergreen forest. The Greater Annamites also includes thousands of kilometres of rivers and streams, some of which are major tributaries of the Mekong River.
Remarkably rich and unique diversity
The broad range of habitats gives rise to a remarkably rich and unique diversity of animals and plants – in other words, biodiversity. Many species are exclusive to the ecoregion. Indeed, one of the greatest concentrations of endemic species in a continental setting are found here, including the beautiful and threatened douc langur (Pygathrix nemaeus).
Recent discovery of a number of large mammals
In recognition of the above, WWF listed the Greater Annamites as a Global 200 Ecoregion. Specifically, the main catalyst for recognition has been the discovery of a number of large mammals over the past 15 years.
Five new species discovered in last decade
An astonishing 5 species, previously undiscovered by science, have been unveiled in the last decade, including: the charismatic saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis).
However, the ecoregion is not critically important to global conservation solely because of its unique species – it also houses several other highly threatened taxa such as the:
- Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
- Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris)
- Javan (Lesser One-horned) rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus)
Back to the top
Extraordinary plant diversity
The variety of rare habitats and animals is coupled with extraordinary plant diversity. In Pu Mat Nature Reserve in Vietnam, there are 1,144 species of vascular plants. This is just one pocket of the Greater Annamites system. Another - Cuc Phuong National Park - has 1,799 such species thriving in a limestone karst landscape.
The number of endemic plants is also very high. The rarity of one plant in particular, the Vietnamese ginseng (Panax vietnamensis), is reflected in its economic value. Ornamental plants, such as orchids and medicinal plants, command high prices in domestic and international markets.
The area's natural wealth provides for a tremendous diversity of human residents. Over 25 million people inhabit the Greater Annamites ecoregion, living in numerous towns and cities, as well as in more remote communities.
More than 30 ethnic groups
The latter comprise more than 30 ethnic groups, each with their distinctive and traditional music, language, dress and customs. The natural resources of the Greater Annamites are vital to all of the people. Not only are the forest products used in people's everyday lives, but the forests also perform other less obvious functions such as preventing landslides and flooding.