The illegal wildlife trade is destroying our Earth, pushing endangered species to extinction, and threatening public health on a globally deadly scale as the 4th largest black-market industry worldwide. Alarmingly, Vietnam plays a major role in the widespread trafficking of wildlife, with high demand for wildlife and as a wildlife trafficking hub.
Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) was established in 2000 as Vietnam’s first non-governmental organization focused on the conservation of nature and the protection of the environment. ENV combats the illegal wildlife trade and aims to foster greater understanding amongst the Vietnamese public about the need to protect nature and wildlife. ENV works closely with government partners to strengthen policy and legislation, and directly supports enforcement efforts in the protection of endangered species of regional, national, and global significance. ENV also employs creative and innovative strategies to influence public attitudes and reduce demand for wildlife trade products.
Since 2007, ENV has focused its activities in three major program areas that comprise ENV’s integrated approach for addressing illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam.
In the 1990s, after decades of war and isolation, environmental awareness was still a very new concept in Vietnam. However, a small group of passionate, young Vietnamese people recognized a great need for sustainable, long-term, locally-led environmental education across the country. With this goal, Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV) was established in 2000.
The idea to create a local NGO focused on the conservation of nature and the environment was born from ENV’s Founder and current Executive Director, Vu Thi Quyen. At the time, she was working for the Cuc Phuong Conservation Project (CPCP) under Fauna & Flora International, delivering Vietnam’s first sustained community based environmental awareness program in the buffer zone of Cuc Phuong National Park.
Recognizing the need to develop and expand a sustainable Vietnamese-led initiative to train educators and protected area staff beyond the life of the FFI project, Quyen came upon the idea of establishing her own organization. And thus, ENV was born.
In the early days, ENV continued the CPCP work of training environmental educators, focusing a majority of its efforts on developing programs at national parks and nature reserves.
However at the same time, Vietnam’s economy was rapidly developing, and this new prosperity also brought increased demand for exotic wildlife dishes and traditional medicines that were formerly beyond the reach of most ordinary citizens. In 2004, in response to rising consumer demand, ENV began shifting its approach towards tackling the difficult issue of the illegal wildlife trade on a national scale.