Rehabilitation and Sustainable Management of Mangrove Forests through International & Cross-Sector Collaboration
Viet Nam has suffered a drastic decrease in mangrove forests in recent decades driven by the growth of aquaculture. The governments of the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam have decided to resolve this issue through cross-sector collaboration between the forestry and fisheries sectors of both governments. Through this cooperation, the two governments will help local people restore and sustainably manage mangrove forests while also improving their livelihoods through eco-friendly aquaculture.
Mangroves provide multiple benefits to ecosystems and people. These include nursery habitats for important fish species and provision of food resources, as well as carbon storage and coastal protection. Despite these benefits, Vietnamese mangroves have seen a nearly 38% decrease in recent decades. Mangrove forests have been destroyed or degraded due to reasons such as conversion to aquaculture and coastal development. Although there has been progress made in mangrove management, there is still a strong need to restore and sustainably manage mangrove forests.
In this context, the two presidents of the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam have agreed to cooperate on restoring mangroves in Viet Nam during their Summit in 2019. As a follow-up to this agreement, the two governments have joined forces to address mangrove deforestation in a more sustainable and effective way. In particular, the two sides decided to develop Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects that address mangrove deforestation through cross-sector collaboration between the two governments. In these projects, the Korea Forest Service of Korea will share its experience and expertise in successful reforestation while the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) of Korea will transfer aquaculture technologies to Viet Nam. Both government agencies of Korea will cooperate with the forestry and fisheries sectors of the MARD and will work together to restore mangrove forests and promote eco-friendly aquaculture in Nam Dinh and Ninh Binh provinces of Viet Nam.
The forestry sector project is aimed at restoring and sustainably managing mangroves to protect coastlines and local residents from natural disasters such as storms. The fisheries sector project is intended to establish aquaculture infrastructure by providing nursery habitats for fish and shellfish and to develop mangrove mudflat aquaculture for livelihood improvement as well as to promote the sustainable management of fisheries resources.
More specifically, the two governments will restore and sustainably manage 330 ha of mangrove forests and will also engage in activities including joint research, capacity development and livelihood improvement. In addition, they will also collaborate to improve aquaculture production through the transfer of advanced aquaculture technology such as nursery rearing.
Through these joint efforts, local residents will gain multiple benefits. The mangrove reforestation and eco-friendly aquaculture are expected to protect local people from natural disasters and to help stabilize marine ecosystems as well as to increase local people's incomes. Equally important, restoration and sustainable management of mangroves will help increase carbon storage.
The Korean government is also exploring ways to scale up these projects including through REDD plus.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
These ODA projects are unique in that they attempt to resolve environmental issues, in particular, mangrove deforestation through cross-sector partnerships between forestry and fisheries sectors. So far, the KFS (forestry sector) and the MOF (fisheries sector) have conducted their ODA projects independently. The Korea Forest Service has expertise in reforestation as illustrated in its successful reforestation after the Korean War. And the MOF has strengths in shellfish aquaculture. Through this cross-sector collaboration, these projects will resolve environmental issues and benefit local communities, as well as improve the effectiveness of ODA and strengthen cross-sector collaboration. Ultimately, this cooperation is expected to set a good model and to be scaled up and replicated in other sectors as well.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The projects are currently at the early phase of project implementation (2021-2025). The two governments are working closely to move forward with the projects. The KFS and MARD have developed a project plan based on a feasibility study and have held several online consultation meetings to discuss project-related matters. In the meantime, the MOF has held consultation meetings with the fisheries sector of MARD. The KFS and MOF are also working together to exchange information on their project progress.
To support project implementation, the KFS has selected a project manager (PM) and plans to send them to Viet Nam in the sencond half of 2021. The MOF will also provide technical assistance through a Korean researcher sent to Viet Nam. The on-the-ground implementation is expected to start in the second half of 2021.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The KFS and MARD as well as the MOF have been working together to develop innovative solutions to mangrove deforestation. Building on its successful reforestation in Korea and other foreign countries, the KFS will share its reforestation knowledge and experience with Viet Nam while the MOF will provide its expertise in mudflat aquaculture. Further, local residents will also participate in this project to promote sustainable mangrove management and practice eco-friendly aquaculture.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Local residents will be beneficiaries of the innovation. Mangrove restoration will protect local people from damages from extreme weather events such as floods and build their resilience against climate change. At the same time, mangrove aquaculture supported by state-of-the-art aquaculture technology will help increase local people's income and motivate them to protect mangroves. Government officials will also be able to learn how to work with other sectors to address environmental issues.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The forestry sector project is expected to restore mangroves and build local people's capacity in sustainably managing mangrove forests while fisheries project will increase aquaculture production through the transfer of advanced mudflat aquaculture technology.
Challenges and Failures
Due to the impacts of COVID-19, project implementation has been delayed to 2021. Initially, the project was scheduled to start in 2020. However, the two governments are committed to successfully implementing these cross-sector projects and have been working closely to move forward with the projects. In particular, the KFS and MARD have held several consultation meetings to discuss project-related issues and the MOF has made a visit to Viet Nam to consolidate the partnerships and discuss the fisheries project. The KFS and the MOF have also been working closely to share information and create synergies.
Conditions for Success
MARD has ample experience and knowledge in mangrove restoration as well as in aquaculture. This provides good infrastructure for successful project implementation. In addition, both governments (MARD-KFS & MOF) have demonstrated strong will and commitment to develop joint projects despite challenges such as COVID-19. Lastly, local people's active participation and cooperation in the projects will be key to project success. To this end, the KFS and MOF personnel will work closely with local residents and provide capacity building opportunities to local people.
This cross-sector collaboration between the forestry and fisheries sectors has the potential to be replicated in other countries in need of mangrove restoration. Also, the project could integrate peatland restoration with aquaculture in countries such as Indonesia in the future. The KFS and MOF will further explore ways to replicate this collaboration model.
Key lessons learned to date are the following:
1) Commitment on both sides is important. Both governments have been pushing hard to develop joint projects. They have continued to pursue project development despite challenges posed by COVID-19.
2) Close communication between stakeholders is essential. The cross-sector collaboration is new both to the KFS and the MOF. Both government agencies have overcome this challenge through close consultation and discussion on project-related matters such as the identification of project sites and areas of cooperation. The KFS and MARD have maintained close communication through online consultations and emails and phone calls.
3) A beneficiary country's strong project readiness can help facilitate project development. MARD has much experience and knowledge in mangrove restoration and aquaculture. This has greatly helped prepare the joint projects and will ensure effective project implementation.