Opportunities and challenges for mangrove management in Vietnam: Lessons learned from Thanh Hoa, Thai Binh and Quang Ninh provinces

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In Vietnam, mangrove forests have been threatened by economic pressures and climate change. This report aims to analyze both opportunities and constraints for mangrove protection and management in Vietnam.
The study found that local people appreciate the role that mangroves play in providing income, an attractive landscape and shelter from climate change related floods and storms. Many communities would be willing to contribute between USD 2-20 per year to a trust fund so as to protect their forests. A large number of policies and projects promote mangrove conservation activities. This has helped strengthen law enforcement, raised local awareness of the role and importance of maintaining forests, and restricted the conversion of mangroves to other economic activities. Government policies and development projects also provide capacity building, training and seedlings for mangrove reforestation activities at the studied sites. Additionally, new incentives such as payment for forest environmental services (PFES) are emerging as a potential source of finance to support mangrove protection and development in the future. Collective action for mangrove protection is widely recognized and promoted among study sites. People have self-organized strikes and protests to oppose converting mangroves to other economic purposes.
Many policies and projects offer social and economic incentives for mangrove protection. However, they are impeded by insecure tenure, land grabbing, elite capture, inequitable benefit-sharing, and unclear responsibilities among government agencies at central, provincial and multilateral levels. Access to information on both policies and projects is difficult for local people. The monitoring and evaluation systems, incentives and disincentives designed by policies and projects have low enforcement and compliance. Policies and projects strongly emphasize and create incentives to replant mangrove forests, rather than to maintain and conserve existing mangrove forest areas. Incentives are also designed to compensate local labor costs for replanting mangrove or patrolling activities, rather than addressing the direct drivers of deforestation and degradation.
Protecting mangroves requires a policy shift in land-use planning to address the drivers of mangrove deforestation and degradation. These drivers, in turn, respond to national and provincial economic development agendas, which focus on aquaculture expansion and migration. Cross-sectoral coordination also needs to be further enhanced to improve effectiveness in law enforcement. Enhancing local participation in mangrove forest protection and development requires a gender-sensitive approach and enabling conditions, such as well-enforced policies, accountable and transparent benefit-sharing, and inclusive decision making.

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