In its latest letter to the ministry, Dong Nai said the six-meter-wide road, slated to go along the Dong Nai River to facilitate forest rangers' jobs, will remove nearly 11 hectares of forest and agricultural lands.

Moreover, it will possibly cut off animals from their water source and foods near the river, thus disturbing the area's ecosystem, the province was quoted as saying.

The changes will adversely affect the sustainability of the park, which is part of the UNESCO-recognized Dong Nai biosphere reserve and is looking to get the status of a world heritage site, it said.

On the other hand, speaking to Tuoi Tre, Nguyen Van Dien, director of Cat Tien Park, said he does not see any problem with the plan, approved by the agriculture ministry in October

The road will be built in places which are currently grasslands and secondary forests, meaning that they do not have much value, he said.

Dien believe the road will make it easier and safer for local forest rangers who now mainly patrol the park by boats, especially during the rainy season.

The Cat Tien National Park stretches over five districts in the provinces of Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai and Lam Dong with the total area of 71,920 hectares.

In 2013, Vietnam applied with UNESCO for the world heritage status for the park. However, the application was rejected allegedly due to a string of local authorities' failures to protect its biodiversity, including the murder of the country's last Javan rhino in 2010 and the killing of an endangered Bos gaurus in 2012.

Thanh Nien News - December 19, 2015