Biodiversity-wetland-ecosystem-conservat

Resilience | Water | Nature

Biodiversity and wetland ecosystem conservation contribute to increasing resiliency to climate change, natural disasters

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August 2020

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), 2020 is a year of urgency ambition and action to address the crisis faced by nature, and an opportunity to fully integrate nature-based solutions to global climate action. [1] For cities in Viet Nam, wetland restoration offers a unique opportunity to protect and restore natural ecosystems, encourage biodiversity, and build resilience to climate change impacts such as flooding and drought.

Wetland ecosystems perform a wide range of environmental valuable services, such as: regulating and cleaning water resources; storing carbon; reducing the impact of floods; reducing the likelihood of water scarcity; providing and maintaining important resources for socio-economic development; preserving biodiversity; and protecting human livelihoods. Despite this, the area of natural wetland ecosystems in Viet Nam has reduced considerably in recent years, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE). [2]

In fact, in 2016, primary swamp forest  ecosystems in the Greater Mekong delta covered 68,000 hectares, down from 4 million hectares of original wetland area.[3]

Wetland loss and degradation has been driven by infrastructure development, establishment of industrial parks and the expansion of residential areas. At the same time, the overexploitation of the wetland resources, without effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, has also led to a decline in wetland biodiversity.

 

AUTHOR

Thanh Van
Thanh Van is an urban climate resilience project coordinator at Plan International Viet Nam. She is also a consultant serving as the Viet Nam City Resilience Officer to the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund. 

Tam Giang lagoon sits between the Vietnamese cities of Hoi An and Hue. The area is the location of Viet Nam’s newest Wetland Nature Reserve.

Wetland restoration

 

In recent months, Viet Nam’s government has begun work to reverse the trend of wetland loss in the country. In June 2020, MONRE and Thua Thien Hue Provincial People Committee (PPC) announced the establishment of the Tam Giang - Cau Hai Wetland Nature Reserve. Tam Giang, sitting approximately 30 kilometers north of Hue City in central Viet Nam, is Southeast Asia's largest lagoon ecosystem. It is home to seagrass beds, mangroves, rare wildlife, and migratory birds.

Covering 2,071.5 hectares, the wetland nature reserve aims to restore the habitats and important ecological systems, biodiversity, and aquatic resources of Tam Giang-Cau Hai. The wetland conservation zone not only preserves and protects the inherent value of nature and increases biodiversity in the lagoon system, but also helps protect Hue City from coastal flooding and storm surges.

This is particularly important for Hue, which sits just three meters above sea level.  Climate projections indicate that sea levels may rise by up to 94 centimeter by 2100, and could lead to further coastal erosion, especially at the mouth of the Perfume River, just south of Tam Giang-Cau Hai. Higher sea levels will make coastal areas more exposed to storm events, increasing the city’s sensitivity to such events thanks to loss of wetlands and the significant loss of pine forests that used to protect the city from the worst effects of storms.

[1] UNEP (2019) 2020: a crunch year for the biodiversity and climate emergencies:

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/2020-crunch-year-biodiversity-and-climate-emergencies

[2] MONRE (2018) Vietnam National Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, Vision to 2030

 https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/vn/vn-nbsap-v3-en.pdf

[3] A review of the drivers of 200 years of wetland degradation in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam

[4] World Bank Climate Knowledge Portal: https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country/vietnam/climate-data-projections

[5] Asian Development Bank. 2018. Climate Change and Flood Hazard Simulations Tools for ADB Spatial Application Facility Final Report. Manila

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