On the morning of September 21st, 2022, the conference “Conservation of coastal wetlands for local communities and biodiversity in the South” took place at the VNUHCM-University of Science.
The conference was organized to mobilize stakeholders in Viet Nam, especially in the Mekong Delta, with the aim of knowledge sharing about migratory water birds, especially endangered species in coastal areas of the sea south of Viet Nam; identification of threats to coastal wetlands, especially in the Mekong Delta; knowledge and experience sharing in the management and protection of coastal wetlands.
At the same time, identifying and agreeing on activities needed to strengthen the protection of wetland ecosystems in Viet Nam, focusing on implementing Directive 04 and Viet Nam ‘s commitment to the Ramsar Convention.
The whole conference scene
The seminar was attended by leading researchers, scientists, conservationists, representatives of related disciplines from the University of Science, the Southern Institute of Ecology, the Asian Development Bank, BirdLife International Organization, the Thailand Bird Conservation Association and representatives of the Departments of Natural Resources and Environment, the Forest Protection Department in Ho Chi Minh City and many localities such as Ben Tre, Tien Giang …, representing Xuân Thủy National Park, Tràm Chim, etc.
At the conference, Assoc.Prof.Dr Trần Lê Quan, Rector of the VNUHCM-University of Science said that Viet Nam possesses many of the most important coastal wetlands for migratory birds across Southeast Asia on East Asia – Australasia flight route. Some of these wetlands are located along the coast of the Mekong Delta and are an integral part of the local communities. However, the coastal wetlands in the region are mainly unprotected, as Viet Nam has few protected areas to retain mangrove forests and coastal tidal flats.
Assoc.Prof.Dr Trần Lê Quan, Rector of the VNUHCM-University of Science spoke at the seminar.
The importance of coastal tidal flats for aquaculture and ecotourism activities highlights the need to guard these ecosystems. At the same time, protecting coastal wetlands enhances resilience to climate change and sea level rise.
Talking about the importance of coastal wetlands, Mr Nguyễn Hữu Thiện – an Independent Expert on the Ecology of the Mekong Delta, said that this is where the ecological connection between the sea and the hinterland is located. It is a breeding ground for aquatic species and foraging for migratory birds.
According to Mr Nguyễn Hữu Thiện, some of the challenges that the ecosystems of these lands are facing include the disconnection between the sea and the river due to activities of dyke construction, sea sluice construction, etc., during farming and sea encroachment planning; climate change causes the coastal water temperature to increase; environmental pollution; land subsidence due to over-exploitation of groundwater, etc.
Mr Thiện gave several ideas to conserve and develop coastal wetlands, such as ensuring the connection between the sea and the mainland, protecting the diversity of coastal wetlands, including mudflats, sandbanks, salty swamps, mangroves, etc., creating a ‘backward zone’ to ensure that there is room for the displacement of mangrove forest inland in the circumstances of climate change. Finally, a diversified, structured afforestation does not grow mono-species in this area.
In addition, according to Dr Vũ Ngọc Long – former Parson of the Southern Institute of Ecology, to effectively conserve coastal wetlands, we need to preserve people’s livelihoods, implement a co-management model, and bring enterprises to participate in the program of sustainable use of coastal wetlands. He also advised us to be very cautious when calculating the construction of industrial zones, coastal wind power areas, etc., to minimize the impact on the ecosystem here and the migration and feeding of birds.
(News quoted from the e-journal of Rural Viet Nam, Conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems (nongthonviet.com.vn))