|A local resident in the forest which his family both protects and uses for aquaculture. — VNA/VNS Photo Tuấn Kiệt
BẠC LIÊU — To make Bạc Liêu coastal protective forest become more attractive to tourists, the province are studying models of cooperatives or management groups with the help of households.
The cooperatives will be responsible for protecting and managing the forest, connecting with travel agencies to design suitable tours.
But to make the trips extra special, districts are asking businesses to help by investing in better infrastructure, traffic systems, electricity and wharves for boats to ferry tourists.
The coastal protective forest of Bạc Liêu Province is is spread over 7,778ha. In it, you will find two main types of trees, mắm (Avicennia) and mangroves.
Although not particularly large, it plays an important role in protecting the environment, limiting the adverse effects of rising sea levels, and landslides that threatens the ecosystem and biodiversity.
The Bạc Liêu Coastal Protective Forest Management Board said that the province has 895 households with 3,582 people living around the protective forest area and making their livelihoods from the forest.
Of which, 670 households are living near the forest, 219 are living in the forest and are contracted by the State to manage and protect it, six others are illegally residing in the protection forest.
In the past, illegal deforestation for firewood and production land often occurred. In recent years, patrols and inspections have been carried out regularly, combined with education on forest management and protection. Since then, people living in forests and forest edges have increasingly raised their awareness and worked with local authorities to protect the land.
Models of production combined with forest protection have helped households who receive forest land contracts to have an increasingly secure life, and the forest to be better protected.
Vũ Hữu Trúc, lives in Thống Nhất Village, Vĩnh Hậu Commune, Hòa Bình District has contracted nearly 8.5ha of forest land. Seventy per cent of the area is protected and the remaining 30 per cent, which is water surface and embankment, is used for aquaculture model.
Thanks to the diversity of aquatic species, Trúc earns over VNĐ150 million (US$6,500) per year on average and his family’s quality of life improved.
Households contracted for forest land said that with the model of shrimp - crab - fish under the forest canopy, each household earns a profit of VNĐ50–100 million ($2,100-4,300) per hectare per year.
Besides benefiting from aquaculture, residents also receive an allowance of VNĐ450,000 ($20) per hectare per year.
Along with developing aquaculture models under the forest canopy, people also organise community eco-tourism models.
The Hương Rừng eco-tourism site in Hamlet 14, Vĩnh Hậu Commune, Hòa Bình District, owned by Nguyễn Thị Thủy, was founded early last year.
After being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the site has now reopened.
The number of visitors is growing, especially on weekends. Tourists can experience casting nets, crab and shrimp fishing. They can sit on rafts, enjoy the beautiful scenery while weaving in the mangrove forest, and enjoy the seafood.
The protection and development of forests in Bạc Liêu Province has made many positive changes, reducing the problem of people illegally felling trees.
But, in reality, forest protection faces many challenges due to the need to use land for aquaculture. The forest ecological environment is regularly and strongly affected by wind and the rise of sea levels. Erosion of coastal forest land is increasingly complicated, especially in the Nhà Mát and Gành Hào estuaries.
Facing that issue, the Bạc Liêu Coastal Protective Forest Management Board proposed to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to create favourable conditions for all economic sectors and social organisations participating in forestry development investment.
It will help bring the province's forestry sector to an increasing contribution to socio-economic development, protect the ecological environment, conserve biodiversity and provide environmental services.
The work will also contribute to poverty reduction, raising living standards for local people and maintaining security and national defence.
Trần Bình Lộc, director of the Bạc Liêu Coastal Protective Forest Management Board, said that to have effective forest management, protection and development, the most important thing was to both protect the forest and ensure people's livelihoods around the forest canopy, helping them have a stable income.
The board regularly cooperates with local authorities and concerned units to educate on forest management, protection and development in accordance with law.
Along with that, the board is interested in research and trial planting of a number of indigenous tree species with high yield, multi-purpose trees to have both protective effects and stable income for people.
The board coordinates with concerned units to open training courses on techniques of afforestation, aquaculture, building a model of forestry combined with fishery.
It will invite qualified investors and ecotourism enterprises to create jobs, employment opportunities and income for local communities, raising the awareness of both local people and tourists about the conservation of natural resources and the environment. — VNS