Carbon stocks in artificially and naturally regenerated mangrove ecosystems in the Mekong Delta

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Mangrove forests cover a small fraction of the earth's surface, but contribute disproportionately to ecosystem services, including carbon (C) storage. These forests are being rapidly degraded as demand for economic development grows. In recognition of the multiple benefits of mangrove forests, rehabilitation of degraded forests is being carried out in many regions. This study assesses the potential for restored mangrove forests in Vietnam to sequester and store C, by characterizing two different mangrove restoration areas in the Mekong Delta region. The Can Gio Mangrove Biospheres Reserve (CGMBR) in Ho Chi Minh City was highly degraded during the Vietnam War and was subsequently replanted between 1978 and 1998. The Kien Vang Protection Forest (KVPF) in Ca Mau Province was similarly degraded during the war, but unlike CGMBR, it has experienced natural regeneration over the last 35 years. We find that vegetation structure between two sites are not different significantly, though CGMBR has richer mangrove species diversity than KVPF. The mean of total ecosystem C stocks in planted mangroves of CGMBR (889 ± 111 MgC ha-1) is not significantly different compare to natural regeneration forests of KVPF (844 ± 58 MgC ha-1). Our findings suggest that after 35 years, both anthropogenically and naturally regenerated mangroves appear to store similar levels of C.

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