Before the War in Viet Nam there were areas of diverse vegetation in the south consisting of many different types of trees belonging to many families. Triple canopy forest covered much of the central highlands and mangroves covered the southern delta region. The land was both beautiful and also useful to the people.
However, during the war and specifically during operation: Ranch Hand, these tropical and mangrove forests were intentionally destroyed. Areas, depending on their specific makeup, were sprayed at different rates and overall 12% of the forest area was sprayed and destroyed after 13 million gallons of Agent Orange was used. The Ma Da forest is a good example of level of the devastation. Before the herbicides hit it was very diverse and full of many different species of plants and animals. Since then, many types of plant and animal life have been destroyed. What is left is very dry grass commonly referred to as American grass and the disappearance of many animals has also been noted.
Before the war
the forest was inhabited by elephants, tigers, leopards, bears and many
species of birds whose numbers are now either significantly diminished or
they just don't exist in the area anymore. Many animals are believe to
have died from
being directly sprayed or eventually died from starvation due to the
disruption of the food chain. Furthermore, the depletion of the
previous vegetation and the rapid growth of invasive grasses has meant serious
ecological consequences for the area. Without the trees massive flooding and erosion
occur during the
wet and dry seasons. This in turn prevents natural reforestation
because the conditions that are necessary for it to take place have
disappeared. Therefore, the only way for the land to be returned to
its natural state is to implement reforestation projects. The Vietnamese
have begun to do this to a small extent. However, this process is
extremely expensive and it will take at least a century to complete.