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, and 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.
As CPCP became recognized as a national model for community-based environmental education, staff began to come from other national parks to learn from it.
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 response to rising consumer demand, in 2004 ENV began shifting its approach towards tackling the difficult issue of the illegal wildlife trade on a national scale.
Since then, ENV’s strategy has developed to include the operation of a toll-free National Wildlife Crime Hotline 1800 1522 to enable public reporting of crimes, extensive public awareness and mobilization campaigns, the development of the Wildlife Crime Unit to support and strengthen law enforcement in wildlife protection, and a policy and legislation program to close legal loopholes and advocate effective government policy.
Today, ENV has grown to employ around 30 dedicated staff in two offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, has a volunteer force of nearly 4,000 members, and a steadily-increasing support base both within Vietnam and internationally (October 2013). ENV is committed to making a difference, and will continue to fight for wildlife protection and to end the illegal trade.
Read an extended story of the development of ENV here.