WWF, Intel begin wetland reforestation in Plain of Reeds (Photo: WWF)

Long An (VNA) – The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Intel Products launched a joint effort to restore habitats in the Lang Sen Wetland Reserve last week, with the goal of planting more than 12,000 native trees this year.

The project aims to restore the degraded forests, providing habitats for wildlife and ensuring livelihoods for local residents, whose livelihoods depend on the area’s ecosystem.

Recent rapid changes in climatic factors like temperature and rainfall, as well as the hydrological regime of the Mekong River, have led to serious degradation of the forests.

The partnership also aims to support the fight against water scarcity in the Mekong Delta, thanks to the forests’ ecological function of storing floodwaters during the rainy season and releasing freshwater into surrounding communities and recharging groundwater in the dry season.

In the first phase of reforestation, WWF and Intel have engaged 400 volunteers, including employees of the chip maker and TRG International, to plant trees on September 14 and 17.

The volunteers also engaged with local students in Tan Hung Commune, Long An Province, to raise awareness and encourage the practice of reusing plastic bottles to protect the environment.

“The Plain of Reeds, including the area of Lang Sen Wetland, not only has a crucial environmental role in protecting the Mekong Delta’s wildlife, but also provides the fundamental eco-system services for local communities,” Trinh Thi Long – Fresh Water Practice Coordinator, WWF-Vietnam, said.

“Restoring the wetland habitats in Lang Sen goes beyond the conservation of this area’s wildlife, and provides local people with better livelihood opportunities.”

Currently only 1 percent of the Plain of Reeds’s natural wetlands remains intact.

To counteract the trend of degraded eco-system integrity, WWF has been delivering a comprehensive ecosystem-based climate change adaptation programme since 2007.

WWF started working in Lang Sen in 2010 to improve water management, conserve bio-diversity and establish a monitoring system for the recovery of the natural habitat.

As the reforested area within the WWF – Intel partnership significantly contributes to WWF’s strategic plan, it sets a strong foundation for developing further conservation works in the Lang Sen Wetland Reserve in the ever-changing context of climate change.

“This is a great opportunity for Intel and its employees to engage in a meaningful project with WWF, directly contributing to both improving long-term livelihoods in local communities and raising awareness among its employees of the importance of ecological preservation, and the negative impacts of climate change at the community level,” He Uyen, public affairs director, Intel Products Vietnam, said.

Officially established in 2004, Lang Sen Wetland Reserve is among the few natural remnants of the Plain of Reeds (Dong Thap Muoi), and home to almost 300 species of plants and animals.

It provides freshwater and fisheries to 9,000 people in the surrounding areas.-VNA