Site-specific and integrated adaptation to climate change in the coastal mangrove zone of Soc Trang Province, Viet Nam

Schmitt, K. et al. | Journal of Coastal Conservation | 2013 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


The dynamic coastline of Soc Trang Province in the Mekong Delta of Viet Nam is in most parts protected from erosion, storms and flooding by a narrow belt of mangroves. However, the unsustainable use of natural resources and development in the coastal zone is threatening the protection function of this forest belt. This situation is exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, particularly by the increased intensity and frequency of storms, floods and by rising sea levels. Based on analysis of past experience of mangrove planting and historical changes in mangrove cover, an integrated and site-specific approach to adaptation to climate change has been put in place, which comprises mangrove planting and rehabilitation with emphasis on resilience to climate change, and participatory involvement of local communities in effective mangrove management and protection through co-management. To address uncertainties associated with the impacts of climate change, testing of new mangrove planting techniques has started. This includes mimicking successful natural regeneration for small-scale planting in sites with high wave energy and transformation of existing even-aged plantations into more diverse forests—both in terms of structure and species composition. The pre-requisite for mangrove rehabilitation in erosion sites has successfully been put in place: breakwaters made from bamboo have reduced erosion and stimulated sedimentation. The design and construction of the wave-breaking structures, which was based on a numerical model which simulates hydrodynamics and shoreline development, ensures that downdrift erosion can be avoided as far as possible. A comprehensive monitoring program has been established and initial results provide evidence for the effectiveness of the bamboo breakwaters. Early experience shows that co-management is an effective way of maintaining and enhancing the protection function of the mangrove forest belt and at the same time providing livelihood for local communities. Payment for ecosystem services contributes to sustainability of co-management as well as livelihood improvement.