Coastal areas with high concentration of economic activities and population density are extremely vulnerable to climate change, warned experts at a recent workshop on community-based mangroves management in response to climate change.

Resilience and recovery of coastal areas depend on the capacity of communities and the health of marine and coastal ecosystems, of which mangrove forests play a very important role, they said at the event held in Hanoi by the Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development.

According to Ho Thi Yen Thu, representative of Vietnamese Network of Non-governmental Organizations and Climate Change, climate change is currently one of the biggest challenges for the mankind. For Vietnam with a long coastline of over 3,260km, this problem becomes extremely urgent.

To respond to climate change and ensure livelihood and environment for coastal residents requires efforts from the government and the people as well as the unified direction of community-based mangrove rehabilitation in the long run.

The workshop is held in the framework of the 2013 Action Plan of the memorandum of cooperation, coordination and information sharing on climate change adaptation activities between the Department of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the network of Vietnamese non-governmental organizations.

The main objective of the workshop is to improve the general understanding of the current situation, as well as ecosystem services related to mangroves in the context of climate change in Vietnam. Thus, the role of the community and stakeholders in the development of a mechanism for management of mangrove forests respond to climate change has been enhanced effectively.

Mangrove forests are the places which nurse and develop many aquatic species, provide medicine, fuel and landscapes for tourism. On the other hand, they also serve as shields to protect coastal areas and green lungs absorbing carbon dioxide and regulating temperature and climate. However, at present, the area under mangroves in Vietnam is only about 155,000 hectares which declined about 60 percent in comparison with that of over the past 70 years.

With communities investing a great deal of effort in protecting and developing mangrove forests, its coverage has been relatively stable over the past 10 years in the country, and even increased in many provinces.

Supported by non-governmental organizations, community-based models of mangrove forest management have been developed in Giao Thuy (Nam Dinh), Cat Ba (Hai Phong), Can Gio (Ho Chi Minh City), and Hau Loc (Thanh Hoa).

To date, mangrove forests have brought into play its role in disaster prevention, building a "green wall" against wave and helping protect the dyke system. They help improve the ecological environment and development of many marine species and enrich the fauna and flora in coastal areas, thus help contribute to socio-economic development.

Many international organizations such as UNESCO, FFI and JICA have provided supports or collaborated with provincial authorities and organizations such as the Red Cross, Farmers' Association, Women's Union and Youth Union to raise public awareness and develop projects related to forest planting, care and protection in the coastal localities, especially Ha Long Bay.-VNA