Harnessing Multiple Benefits from Resilient Mangrove Systems

Mangroves provide many benefits, from the provision of food and fuel wood to local coastal communities, to storm protection, and the removal of carbon from the atmosphere that otherwise has potential to worsen climate change.  However, mangroves are coming under increasing pressure due to land use changes resulting from coastal development, aquaculture and climate change. In Vietnam for example, the area under mangrove forest declined by 35% between 1983 and 2012, increasing the vulnerability of the coast to tidal surges, hurricanes and saline intrusion as well as reducing the availability and accessibility of mangrove resources necessary to support people’s livelihoods.

Previous research has helped us better understand mangrove ecosystems and the relationships between mangrove protection, restoration and aquaculture, particularly in the Mekong Delta where the largest areas of mangroves in Vietnam are found. Less attention has been given to mangroves elsewhere on the Vietnamese coast, or to the interactions between the human and environmental components of the mangrove system, and how they can help each other to be more resilient. Working in northern Vietnam’s Red River Delta, we aim to evaluate socio-ecological resilience in mangrove systems and explore management options that can maintain resilience and enhance the delivery of benefits at local to global scales.  To achieve this aim we will meet the following objectives: 

  • Understand spatial and temporal change in mangrove systems using historical and contemporary maps, satellite images and ecological data.
  • Identify and evaluate local livelihood trajectories in mangrove socio-ecological systems and the role of ecosystem services.
  • Chart the trajectory of socio-ecological resilience in select mangrove systems and outcomes for ecosystem services.
  • Ascertain the synergies and trade-offs between livelihood and other benefits delivered by mangroves across scales, and evaluate management options for delivering multiple ecosystem services.

Our objectives will be addressed using qualitative and quantitative research methods and combining ecology, remote sensing, GIS, livelihood approaches and scenario evaluation. Stakeholder engagement, knowledge exchange and resource development have been integrated throughout our project to build capacity for conservation and sustainable management of mangroves in Vietnam.