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Preserving Forests for Sustainable Livelihoods

Preserving Mangrove Forests Creates Multiple Livelihoods

Mangrove forests here are well-preserved and newly planted, attracting abundant fish and shrimp. Beyond offering clean seafood at good prices, the forest also provides various other livelihoods: tourism, processing fresh and dried seafood…

Giữ rừng thêm xanh tạo nhiều sinh kế - Ảnh 1.

Mangrove Preservation Yields Prosperity

“Growing mangroves is like nurturing a child. Watching the trees thrive each day brings joy and excitement, while disease and pests bring worry,” says Ms. Trịnh Thị Ngọc Hiện. Her entrepreneurial idea of forest conservation has brought lush greenery and increased income to a coastal mangrove region.

Ms. Ngọc Hiện, working at the FACOD Center under the Bến Tre Fisheries Association, initiated a community eco-tourism project in Thạnh Phong commune, Thạnh Phú district, creating additional forest-based livelihoods. However, after the project ended, the forest was not maintained, and locals reverted to short-term profit pursuits like shrimp farming.

Together with her husband Nguyễn Tấn Vàng, both postgraduates in resource and environmental management from the University of Agriculture and Forestry in Ho Chi Minh City, Ms. Hiện resigned to develop the “Business with Forest Keepers” model. They understood the long-term benefits of well-managed forests.

Without sustainable practices, local resources would be depleted, and the forest’s benefits in combating climate change and rising sea levels would be lost.

Starting their venture, the couple borrowed money to lease land and now manage 25 hectares of community forest in Thạnh Phước, Bình Đại, Bến Tre.

In building the “Forest Keeper” farm, they hoped the community would join, but local reluctance led them to design their model farm alone.

The farm, designed as an eco-friendly site, includes shrimp and fish attracting dams set in a natural environment.

The farm has a homestay, floating bridges for visitors to experience the forest, and an additional 10 hectares of newly planted mangroves along the coast for landscape beauty and wildlife habitat. The couple meticulously cares for the forest, replanting uprooted trees and controlling pests.

Mobilizing locals to preserve the forest was challenging due to their focus on immediate profits from shrimp farming.

The Vàng-Hiện couple initially didn’t rush into eco-tourism but instead focused on the value of mangrove fisheries, purchasing seafood at 15% above local market prices for quality catch, encouraging locals to let smaller fish grow and plant more mangroves.

Along with higher seafood purchase prices, they developed the “Forest Keeper” distribution channel, providing clean, safe food to organic supermarkets and online consumers.

“Forest Keeper” processes fresh and frozen seafood in a dedicated area, avoiding farm pollution.

Visitors to the farm not only enjoy mangrove seafood but also experience fishing, clamming, and oyster farming. At night, they can experience water release and shrimp fishing.

Ms. Trịnh Thị Ngọc Hiện’s successful “Forest Keeper” farm model is inspiring many in Bến Tre with mangrove lands to see the forest’s benefits, offering diverse income sources and long-term exploitation.

Following suit, many locals have started planting more mangroves, water coconut, and other trees on their mangrove lands.

(Source: Tuổi Trẻ Newspaper)

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