Mangrove forest in central Vietnam a green shield against nature

By Hoang Tao   March 27, 2019 | 04:30 pm PT
The seven-hectare mangrove forest in Quang Binh Province has been a solid wall protecting the area from storms and war hazards.
Part of the mangrove forest along the Kien Giang River. Photo by Quang Ha

Part of the mangrove forest along the Kien Giang River. Photo by VnExpress/Quang Ha

Located along the Kien Giang River between the villages of Quang Xa and Hoa Binh, 550km south of Hanoi, the forest has been woven into the fabric of local life for centuries.

Nguyen Van Duoc, 85, said since childhood he has been going into the forest. "The forest is very beautiful. Birds flock and sing all over the region. We used to go to the forest to play games."

Thanks to great awareness of the need for conservation, the forest has grown into a seven-hectare expanse with a length of more than one kilometer. The sonneratia trees here are 3-7m tall, their trunks are 10-40 cm across, and they form a dense canopy that stands firm against violent storms and floods.

It has been acting like a solid wall protecting people, especially in Tan Ninh Commune. Duoc told VnExpress there was a storm in 2010 when many other places were badly damaged but the commune escaped unscathed.

Fifty years ago a major flood came, but his house barely became wet, he recalled.

A part of the protection forest is under the surveillance of two village veterans. Photo by Quang Ha

A part of the protective forest that is tended by two village veterans. Photo by VnExpress/Quang Ha

The forest also has war history. During the French resistance period, Quang Xa village people took refuge here, building fortifications and keeping out the French invaders.

The French troops had to fire into the village and travel against the current of Kien Giang stream to get to the mouth of the river. During the destructive war against the Americans, the forest became a gathering place for soldiers.

Today the largest coastal mangrove forest in Quang Binh helps reduce the intensity of tides and protects the land and dozens of hectares of aquaculture farms.

It offers an ideal environment for aquatic species and a habitat and feeding ground for many birds, especially white stork.

Tan Ninh Commune has assigned some war veterans in Quang Xa and Hoa Binh villages to take care of and protect the forest.

Nguyen Van Hien, a veteran of Quang Xa village, said locals are aware of the importance of the forest and so help with its conservation.

Every day the veterans go on patrol to ensure there is no illegal logging or the use of electric shock to catch fish. 

Thanks to the dense forest of hundreds of years old, the people of Tan Ninh can feel at ease as the forest acts as a shield protecting them against floods and storms. Photo by Quang Ha

People in Tan Ninh are at ease since the dense forest acts as a shield against floods and storms. Photo by VnExpress/Quang Ha

Nguyen Quang Tuyen, Party Secretary of Tan Ninh Commune, said when people protect the forest, the forest in turn protects them. It has been evident that many years through severe climate change, but life in Tan Ninh remains tranquil.

"In the near future the mangrove forest will be used for ecotourism, creating more sustainable livelihoods for the people here," Tuyen said.

In 2019-2023 Quang Binh Province will implement a project to "Modernize the forestry sector and strengthen the resilience of coastal areas" at a cost of over VND500 billion ($22 million) provided by the World Bank.

The project will be carried out in 32 communes and wards along the water and involve planting trees and reviving nearly 3,100 ha of mangrove forests from which around 100 residential areas will benefit.

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