|Dong Rui coastal mangrove forest in Tien Yen district, Quang Ninh province.
In the recollection of 54-year-old Hoang Thi Lien, 20 years ago the aquatic resources from the Dong Rui mangrove forest remained abundant. The locals only thought about exploiting these resources rather than about the need to protect the forest.
Lien was the first person in Dong Rui commune to campaign for mangrove planting. She said the livelihoods of thousands of local people were at risk due to deforestation.
“In the past, the embankment of shrimp ponds had almost destroyed the ecosystem and left many areas empty. Everything began to change when a Dutch-sponsored project planted 40 hectares of mangroves in the Canh Be horticulture area. At that time, we had to mobilize people to plant trees. Some readily agreed, but others didn’t. Now afforestation is deeply implanted in people’s consciousness,” Lien recalled.
After 10 years of difficulty due to the depletion of aquatic resources, people have become more aware of protecting and planting mangroves and restoring lost areas.
There are no longer untilled shrimp and crab ponds in Dong Rui.
Now the green of mangrove trees rises overhead. The islanders plant and protect mangrove trees as a regular habit.
“We know that planting trees mitigates storms and restores the environment. Once the trees grow, fish and shrimp will have a place to make their homes. We’ve told everyone they need to protect the environment,” said a local resident.
Dong Rui island commune has more than 2,000 hectares of mangrove forest, two thirds of the its natural area.
The Dong Rui coastal mangrove forest might be the most beautiful and unspoiled mangrove forest in northern Vietnam. Many of the mangrove trees there are hundreds of years old and are carefully preserved for their precious genetic material. The mangrove forest’s aquatic resources provide the livelihood of 80% of the people in Dong Rui commune.
Loc Van Sinh, Party Secretary and Chairman of Dong Rui commune’s People’s Committee, told VOV that the locals have created a village convention on mangrove forest protection.
“The local Party Committee has directed villages and communes to develop residential area conventions and establish mangrove management groups. This convention model has been replicated to hamlets and households. The Dong Rui forest is now well protected and is being submitted to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance," said Sinh.
At the launch of Action Month for the Environment 2022, Tran Hong Ha, Vietnam’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, called on local residents to promote community spirit to protect their area’s "green lungs".
Ha insisted that “In the future, the central government will support local people in becoming an international wetland heritage, exploit the wetlands sustainably, manage the mangroves properly, share the benefits, and develop tourism for sustainable growth.”