Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Leslie North (Director), Dr. Jason Polk, Dr. Patricia Kambesis, Dr. Vu Thi Minh Nguyet

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Karst landscapes are vulnerable to human influence, especially agricultural practices. The interconnectedness between surface activities and subsurface environments make karst landscapes particularly susceptible to soil erosion and water contamination. The likelihood of these two phenomena happening increases when agricultural intensification, irrigation, or fertilizer application occurs. This situation arises frequently in Vietnam, where 18% of the country is karst terrain and 60% of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods (Farming First 2009). In order to mitigate the negative consequences of agriculture on karst landscapes, effective implementation of policy to regulate human activities and increased communication of these policies to appropriate communities is needed. This study occurred in Phong Nha- Kẻ Bàng National Park, Vietnam, a UNESCO World Heritage site dominated by karst landscapes, extensive agricultural communities, and minimal regulation efforts specific to karst terrains. Interviews, observation, and GPS analysis were used to analyze the effectiveness of policy communication and karst protection in PN-KB. The research revealed that karst protection policy in the region is minimally communicated and, when communicated, often delivered in an ineffective manner to the wrong individuals. Despite the known harm agriculture causes to karst landscapes, intensification, irrigation, and the use of fertilizers still occurs frequently and is often supported by government officials in PN-KB. Policy and karst landscape information is concentrated among park officials and rarely presented in an informal setting, leaving those in most frequent contact with the karst landscape—the farmers—without any information about the vulnerability of karst terrain to agricultural activities and the subsequent consequences to human health. Through analyzing the interactions between farmers and management officials in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, general conclusions on communicating policies to protect karst terrain in agricultural regions can be drawn. The communication of karst science and the implementation of policy to protect karst landscapes must be presented both formally to governing officials and local representatives, as well as through informal networks to general citizens. Through these means of communication, protection for karst landscapes and their inherent natural resources can successfully be implemented.


Environmental Education | Environmental Health and Protection | Indigenous Education | Social Influence and Political Communication