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Global Ideas

Putting a price on mangroves

One of the world's richest ecosystems, mangroves have been severely eroded by shrimp aquaculture. Efforts are now underway to reverse the trend and ensure local fishermen a better income.

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Project goal: Mangrove protection, enhanced standard of living among local shrimp fishermen in Ca Mau province in southern Vietnam.

Implementation: Mangrove restoration in shrimp aquaculture areas, and "Naturland" organic shrimp certification in restored aquacultures.

Size: The project "Mangroves and Markets," which is run by Netherlands nonprofit development organization SNV, employs six people. The budget for the pilot project is 887,000 euros ($961,000). To date, 741 shrimp fishermen have organic certification. The goal is to increase that number to 1,300, and to replant 5,000 hectares of mangroves.

Biodiversity: Expansion of aquaculture and population growth in the Mekong Delta over the past decades has led to the destruction of more than half of the region's mangroves. These ecosystems protect coastal areas from erosion, and the Vietnamese government says their depletion could lead to the flooding of up to 40 percent of the country by the end of this century.

Conservation has to make financial sense, especially for local populations. "Mangroves and Markets" - a project run by the Netherlands nonprofit development organization SNV - is encouraging local shrimp farmers to plant mangroves in their aquaculture areas. This creates a perfect breeding ground for shrimp, and allows farmers to work without dangerous and expensive chemicals. Consequently, they stand a greater chance of receiving organic certification - which, in turn increases the value of their products. Financed by the International Climate Initiative (ICI), the project encourages sustainable mangrove replanting.

A film by Joanna Gottschalk

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