The People of Vietnam: Dr. Vo Quoc Tuan (CTU Researcher)
By Kevin Cofer
We have been fortunate enough to receive an array of lectures from a handful of some of Can Tho University’s brightest professors. One of which was Dr. Vo Quoc Tuan, who taught us about the ecosystem services of the Mekong Delta, mainly facilitated by the mangrove trees. Born on February 28th 1978, Dr. Tuan then earned a bachelor’s in Land Management from Can Tho University in 1997, later a master’s in remote sensing from South Korea, and finally a doctorate at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Germany. In his professional life Dr. Tuan has published seven scientific articles and is currently a professor at Can Tho University in Vietnam.
Dr. Tuan shared an overview of his research, explaining how scientists have identified four types of ecosystem services: provisioning (such as food, water, wood, and fuel), supporting (such of nutrient cycling, soil formation, and primary production), regulating (including disease prevention, climate regulation, and flood control), and cultural (including spiritual values, educational opportunities, and recreational enjoyment). His lecture also included an equation used to calculate the monetary value of ecosystem services. This is a useful tool allowing researchers to express naturally occurring functions as a fiduciary value, which may help to provide an accurate perspective of how significant ecosystem services really are.
I found Dr. Tuan’s research very interesting because it defines a direct correlation between ecosystem functions and livelihood sustainability. His research quantified the value of these naturally occurring functions and helped to illustrate their significance for local people. Household surveys suggest that a growing number of patrons living within the mangrove forests of the delta understand how vital the mangroves are to the functionality and production of the landscape. Here is a photograph that Dr. Tuan showed us of him with Dr. Robert Constanza, a leading scientist in ecosystem services, as they discussed the value of natural and social capital, in theory and in practice.