Key message: Globally, mangrove forests are under threat from a range of causes. They also represent a large potential form of climate mitigation and adaptation via reforestation, and this investment may contribute to restoration efforts and reverse mangrove decline. There has been significant (c. 200,000 ha) mangrove reforestation and restoration activity in Vietnam, and these projects provide indicators of the causes of project failure or success, and what is required for more complex restoration of ecosystem services. Failure in mangrove programs can be attributed to lack of understanding of the reasons for the loss of mangroves, poor site and species selection, and lack of incentives to engage local residents in the long-term management of restored areas. Overcoming these impediments and adopting monitoring and reporting procedures that consider both areal success and ecosystem function will provide a more robust approach for future mangrove restoration projects.
Context: Over the last three decades there has been considerable (c. 200,000 ha) state and non-government investment in mangrove programs in Vietnam. The main objectives have been coastal protection and stabilization and the production of forest products, with fisheries, climate mitigation, and adaptation and ecosystem restoration as minor objectives. These have had reportedly varied success in terms of long-term survival rates. Much focus has been on the use of mono-species rather than restoring functioning mangrove ecosystems.
Aims: This paper provides an overview of the status of mangroves in Vietnam and considers the effectiveness of mangrove restoration efforts based on an analysis of these reports. We develop and recommend approaches to make future mangrove restoration programs more effective.
Result: First, we provide an overview of mangrove distribution and mangrove deforestation in Vietnam. Second, we analyse major mangrove projects by investigating their objectives and exploring reasons for their success or failure. Third, we suggest approaches for successful mangrove restoration activities in the context of current international agreements on climate change. Failure in some mangrove restoration programs in Vietnam can be attributed to lack of understanding of the reasons for the loss of mangroves and of site hydrology, poor site and species selection, lack of long-term monitoring and management, and lack of incentives to engage local communities in the long-term management of restored areas. Removal of these impediments will increase restoration success.
Conclusion: The widespread and varied mangrove reforestation and restoration activities in Vietnam allow the analysis of different approaches and identification of the key factors leading to restoration success. These include care with species selection, having clear protocols for monitoring and reporting and implementing a co-management approach that provides incentives for local communities to benefit from the management of restored mangroves.