Climate change to hit nation's mangrove forests

The impacts of climate change would severely affect the biodiversity of mangrove forests across the country, experts have said.
The impacts of climate change would severely affect the biodiversity of mangrove forests across the country, experts have said.

Addressing a forum on the impacts of climate change and biodiversity held on May 22, Dr Hoang Nghia Son, director of the Institute of Tropical Biology, said that biodiversity was a crucial base for the existence and development of countries around the world but it had been severely affected by climate change.

"Sea levels are expected to rise 1m by the end of this century which will flood up to 12 percent of Vietnam," he said.

"Coastal wetlands will be heavily affected, especially in HCM City and the Mekong Delta provinces of Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, Bac Lieu and Ca Mau, home to many important wetland areas.

"Eight national parks and 11 nature reserves will be flooded, killing many species of flora and fauna," Son warned.

Dr Le Anh Tuan of Can Tho University's Natural Resources and Environment Department said rising temperatures and sea levels as well as irregular rainfall and a large number of storms and whirlwinds damaged the biodiversity of wetland areas.

"An increase in temperature will cause hundreds of trees to die and increase the threat of forest fires and slow the growth of flora. Fluctuating rainfall will change the biological cycles of flora and fauna and alternate natural flows as well.

"In addition, rising sea levels will mess with the ecosystem and threaten flora through salination, erosion and high tides. "Storms and whirlwinds will devastate coastal zones, destroying forests, degrading water quality and killing species of flora and fauna," Tuan emphasised.

Tram Chim National Park, an endemic park of cajeput trees and birds in the Cuu Long Delta, has recently experienced the impacts of climate change. Nguyen Van Hung, Director of the park, said they were having to fight the spread of harmful species including apple snails and mimosa pigra, along with changes in temperature and rainfall.

"We have seen a decrease in crane numbers due to a lack of tubers called nang, which the crane feed upon, which were destroyed by floods last year. This year, we are faced with severe drought and the risk of forest fires this summer," he said.

Dr Le Van Hue from Vietnam National University in Hanoi and Norwegian NGO Tropenbos International in Vietnam said evidence of climate change had become apparent.

"Climate change has discernibly affected plant and animal populations in recent decades," she said. Experts believe that work to protect biodiversity must be undertaken by the whole society. Tuan recommended that the National Assembly form new laws on climate change to encourage contributions from decision makers, local authorities, scientists and environmentalists at a grassroots level.

"Every province should have a committee for provincial climate change adaptation to co-ordinate the actions of NGOs, scientists and local authorities and to create a network for information exchange," he said.

Dr Vu Ngoc Long, the Institute of Tropical Biology's deputy director and director of the HCM City based Centre of Biodiversity and Development (CBD) said the call and efforts by scientists through the co-ordination of CBD has drawn the attention of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

He believed the invitation to become a member of the organising board of the ASEAN exhibition on Biology to be held in August on the sidelines of the 21st Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment was a chance for co-operation.

The ministry's National General Department of Environment will take charge of organising the exhibition./.

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