Co Chien Islet’s Ngang Beach in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Province of Tra Vinh has been recognised for its successes in restoring local biodiversity and ecosystems.
A recent report in Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper highlighted the success of afforestation work and other projects to ensure Co Chien adapts to climate change.
Experts from the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) working on the group’s Greater Mekong Programme said about 36 kinds of aquatic species have been restored at Ngang Beach, situated in Hai Thu Hamlet, Long Hoa Commune, Chau Thanh District, Tra Vinh Province.
Ngang Beach is located at the mouth of the Co Chien River, a branch of the Mekong, which empties into the southern East Sea.
Do Minh Tien, Party committee secretary of Long Hoa Commune, said local residents have benefited from the introduction of more sustainable ways to earn a living.
“Living standards of people at Ngang Beach have improved thanks to efforts to preserve local forests,” said Tien.
The ecosystem has also benefited.
“Aquatic species such as vop (a kind of clam), thoi loi fish, ca ngat (gray eel catfish) and bong sao fish (boleophthalmus boddarti) were almost driven to extinction during the past ten years, but recently their numbers have recovered strongly,” Tien said.
Hectares of forests were planted on Ngang Beach this year, part of efforts to help mitigate the impact of climate change.
“10ha of the total 170ha plantation were zoned as a bio-diversity reserve,” Tien said.
Huynh Quoc Vu, head of management board of Tien Thanh Co-operative, said local people have been taught more sustainable farming methods.
“Locals realised the importance of the forests to their lives, so they no longer over-exploit the natural resources here,” said Vu.
Tien Thanh Co-operative was established in 2004 and now has 400 members.
Since its establishment, the co-operative has made a profit each year. Profits are shared among members based on their holdings.
“In 2009, the co-operative gained VND8 billion (US$404,000) from clam farming. After deducting expenses, the dividend was VND650,000 ($33) each,” Vu said.
The co-operative has expanded the area of clam cultivation to 150ha for this crop, aiming for a dividend of VND700,000 ($35.5) for each clam farmer, said Vu.
Tran Van Quy, who was one of the first farmers in the area to take part in afforestation projects, says the work has helped mitigate the impacts of storms and other extreme weather.
“Ten years ago, landslides were a terrible risk here, especially during the monsoon,” said Quy.
“But thanks to the support of the Government, there is now a buffer zone of forest running along coastal land.”
His family has planted and protected 20ha of cypress forest.
“We have the right to exploit this natural resource. However, we have to obey certain rules to preserve the ecosystem, so we are not allowed to use electric traps to catch fish and we avoid catching young or baby fish.”
Quy said crabs have become particularly abundant in the area.
Fifty-year-old farmer Nguyen Huu Chi, who manages 5ha of newly planted forest, said planting trees has lured back a wide range of wildlife.
“This includes rising numbers of crab, catfish, shrimp, tra fish and goby fish,” he said.
“I will plant an additional 3.3ha of trees this year where I can breed goby fish. I earned VND30 million ($1,500) in the last harvest while the expenditure was less than VND10 million ($500).”