MEKONG DELTA — Authorities in the southernmost Cà Mau Province have taken emergency measures to protect coastal forests against climate change and destruction caused by humans.
Meteorologists have warned that climate change would cause large areas of forests along the coast to disappear ever year.
According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s division to combat natural disaster, in the past decade Cà Mau lost 300-400ha of protective forests per year. The area of forest lost since 1989 is 5,000-6,000ha, which is equivalent to an average commune.
Nguyễn Ngọc Tiến, chairman of the Ngọc Hiển District People’s Committee, said protective forests were shrinking due to erosion worsened by climate change and human impacts.
Immigrants from other provinces caused difficulties for Cà Mau authorities in not only managing social order and security but also protective coastal forests in the Cape Cà Mau National Park.
Ngọc Hiển District is criss-crossed by rivers and canals that allow entry into the forests, allowing people to illegally log and exploit resources in the mangroves.
The trees are used to build houses and to make charcoal.
The Cà Mau Forest Rangers Department said to protect the coastal forests provincial authorities have launched propaganda campaigns on how the forests act as a protective barrier against climate change and natural disasters, increased patrolling of the forests and begun to penalise people flouting forest protection laws.
They are also creating jobs for locals introducing aquaculture models in the salt marshes to develop forest-based community tourism.
These serve to both reduce logging and other illegal acts and nurture the forests.
Tô Quốc Nam, deputy director of the province Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, said the volume of alluvium brought into the region had reduced greatly and forests did not grow naturally unlike in the past.
"Afforestation is required to gradually restore the coastal forests," he said.
The province is building embankments along sections of the coast affected by erosion such as in Khánh Tiên – U Minh, Kinh Mới – Đá Bạc, and Hương Mai – Tiểu Dừa.
It spent VNĐ652 billion (nearly US$30 million) on building and repairing 23.7km of dykes.
These efforts have helped it restore over 300ha of forests.
The province plans to use funds from climate change projects and the World Bank and EU to restore over 1,000ha by 2020.
Cà Mau has a total of 24,100ha of protective forests, mainly in the coastal districts of Ngọc Hiển, U Minh, Trấn Văn Thời, Phú Tân, and Đầm Dơi. — VNS