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Mangrove forests protect Mekong crops

Update: November, 28/2015 - 09:56
Residents of Vam Ray Commune erect a wooden fence to protect the mangrove forest in Kien Giang Province. — VNS Photo To Nhu To Nhu
KIEN GIANG  (VNS) — Crops and farms would be protected by a mass of mangrove forests in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces, thanks to a restoration project.

The region is home of millions people and is the country's most important agricultural region, but climate change is leading the rising sea levels, and some areas of the coast are already being eroded.

The mangrove forests along the coast, which protect the hinterland from floods and storms, are in dramatic decline.

A project under the Integrated Coastal Management Programme, co-funded by Germany and Australia, which was implemented in Hon Dat District's Vam Ray hamlet, first gained success in Kien Giang province.

The project has worked with the local community and relevant authorities to establish a coastal protection model in Hon Dat District.

It has helped farmers here to make plans to adapt to climate change, including activities such as mangrove rehabilitation and coastal forest protection measures, promotion of alternative income opportunities for communities dependent on coastal forests and improved dyke construction and management.

Huynh Huu To, one of the project's staff, said technical staff supported farmers in applying new techniques in restoring mangrove to prevent erosion.

"In the six years since 2009, in implementing the pilot project, such forests provide the best protection against floods and storms," To said.

To added that the cost for building a dyke to prevent waves reached VND30 billion (US$1.3 million) per kilometre, but it is often destroyed yearly.

The provincial authorities also urged residents to plant forests in previous years, but failed to prevent saline water from spreading, he said.

"In previous years, many local residents gave up their farms to find another job or work for other region's farms because plants and fisheries could not live in saline water," Tong Van Anh, a local resident said.

"Dykes are breached each year with the saltwater intrusion, destroying crops and fish production", Anh said.

But now the coastal dyke is no longer directly affected by waves, he said.

"Income from fisheries is not high yet but the benefits which come from mangrove forests have been recognised by local residents here", said Nguyen Tin, deputy director of Hon Dat forest management department.

In 2014, her family had invested capital from a loan from a women's association to build ponds for fish farming, and benefited from it, Anh's wife said.

Mangroves had helped to safeguard several kilometres of sea dykes, houses, roads and agriculture lands and residents could keep their mind on their work, said Tin.

The project had addressed ways to improve the production and even led to their expansion, Tin said.

Mangrove forests play a vital role in the mitigation of threats presented by climate change, and in particular sea level rise and storm surge.

Local communities have also become increasingly aware of the great risks involved, according to Tin.

Under the programme, the province will further implement planting mangrove forests in An Bien and An Minh districts. — VNS

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