Making news

Farmers earn higher incomes from protecting mangrove forests

Local households assigned to plant mangrove trees and breed aquatic species in forested areas are earning higher incomes in two coastal districts of Kien Giang province.

The families were allocated a certain area of forest to protect under a provincial programme.

The submerged forests in the coastal areas of An Bien and An Minh districts have a length of 60km and cover more than 4,000ha. Of the figure, nearly 3,000ha have been allocated to 867 households. The rest are protected by the An Bien – An Minh Forest Management Board.

The submerged forests, which run from An Bien’s Tay Yen commune to An Minh’s Van Khanh Tay commune, are divided into one main forest belt and a secondary forest belt.

The secondary forest belt in which most “duoc” (rhizophora apiculata) trees are planted have been allocated to local households for protection.

Since 2011, the board has assigned local households to protect submerged forests, plant new forests and breed aquatic species.

Under the policy, forest-allocated households are allowed to use 70 percent of forest land to plant trees and 30 per cent to breed aquatic species such as fish, shrimp, crab and blood cockles.

The breeding of aquatic species in the forests has helped many poor households escape poverty, according to the management board.

Van Kin, who has protected 15ha of submerged forests in An Minh’s Thuan Hoa commune, said besides planting mangrove trees, he breeds blood cockles, shrimp and crab in his forested area. He earns an income of 150-200 million VND (6,600–8,800 USD) a year, mostly from harvesting blood cockles, he said.

In the next few years, his family will have additional income when mangrove trees are harvested, he said.

Tran Phi Hai, director of the management board, said that submerged forests have recovered after being allocated to households.

Nguyen Van Khoe, who protects 12ha of submerged forests in An Minh’s Nam Thai A commune, said his seven-year-old mangrove forests are well-protected. “My forests look like primitive forests and are beautiful,” he said.

In his forests, he breeds blood cockles as this bivalve mollusc offers higher profits than shrimp or crab, he said.

Every year, he earns a profit of 400-500 million VND (17,600–22,000 USD) from breeding blood cockles, he said.

“Most households here have become much better-off from breeding blood cockles and planting submerged forests,” he said.

Blood cockles from these areas are well-known for their good flavour.