World Resource Institute

Mangrove Restoration and Rehabilitation for Climate Change Adaptation in Vietnam

By Neil Powell, Maria Osbeck, and Dr. Bach Tan Sinh

Located within the tropical monsoon belt, Vietnam is extremely vulnerable to climate change, particularly to increases in storm intensity and sea level rise. This case study examines Vietnam’s efforts to use mangroves as an adaptation approach, and illustrates how governance plays a crucial role in the success of such actions. Large-scale mangrove restoration and rehabilitation has been institutionalized as key adaptation interventions in Vietnam, with very different results in the north and south.

In the North, mangroves have been planted primarily to protect the coast from sea level rise and storms, without giving local inhabitants user rights. This has magnified conflicts of interest over claims to coastal wetlands between the lucrative shrimp aquaculture industry and mangrove plantations. Marginalized members of society have been displaced, in particular women dependent on access to the coast to harvest non-cultivated seafoods, such as clams and crabs.

In the South, mangrove restoration and rehabilitation has been designed more as a multi-functional approach to alleviate poverty and diversify livelihoods. Many plantations are both species-rich and managed under several land-use arrangements, with individuals allocated land ownership in some cases. Under such conditions, mangroves can provide both ecological goods and services and livelihood benefits. This is especially the case in areas where restoration has been coupled with capacity building and training, and the provision of social services, such as schools and health clinics, and of infrastructure such as roads and electricity.

Vietnam’s experience suggests that adaptation approaches with a single objective – such as protecting coastal infrastructure from sea level rise – can lead to conflicts of interest that hinder implementation, especially when local communities are not involved. Incorporating adaptation within a comprehensive development planning process has had greater success in providing benefits to all stakeholders.

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