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Vietnam: Alerting levels of coastal erosion

In Vietnam, the impacts of climate change, high tides and extreme weather such as storms, floods and other causes have seriously eroded coastal areas, mainly in the Central and the South, affecting the development of coastal areas' socio-economic development, directly threatening the lives and properties of thousands of households.


The increasing levels of threats


With a coastline of over 3,260km stretching from North to South, from Mong Cai in the North to Ha Tien in the Southwest (not to mention the coast of islands), Vietnam ranks 27th out of 157 coastal countries, islands and territories of the world.


The situation of coastal erosion started many years ago, but since 2020, this situation has taken place at a fast pace with many potential risks and dangers. The cause was determined that the central provinces have narrow terrain, short and steep river and stream systems, easy to change the flow. In addition to the topographic factor, the high tides combined with the resonance effects of many types of extreme weather such as floods, storms, and northeast monsoon, making the coast unbalanced, is the main cause of high water surge, causing erosion and prolonged flooding.


According to preliminary statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, nationwide, there are 2,229 spots of riverbank and coastal erosion, with a total length of more than 2,837 km, of which, the provinces of Northern and Thanh Hoa of 439 spots (394 km), central coastal provinces from Nghe An to Binh Thuan of 815 spots (1,200 km), Central Highlands provinces of 388 spots (394 km), Southeast provinces of 117 spots (160 km) and Mekong Delta provinces of 470 spots (689 km).


On average, Ca Mau, a southern area, loses 300-400ha of land and coastal protection forests each year because of landslides. Statistics over the past 10 years show that landslides have caused Ca Mau province to lose land and forests, an area equivalent to the average area of a village. This year, the rainy season comes early, combined with high tides, causing coastal erosion in this locality to continue to be complicated. Monitoring results show that, on the west coast, the average landslide is from 20-25 m/year, in some places up to 50m/year, and on the East coast, the average erosion rate is 45-50 m/year.


The West Sea groyne in Ca Mau province has had many serious landslides in recent times, threatening the safety of hundreds of hectares of production of people
The West Sea groyne in Ca Mau province has had many serious landslides in recent times, threatening the safety of hundreds of hectares of production of people

The length of the West coast in Vietnam has been eroded for about 57 km, and in many sections there is no protection forest, or only a few tens of meters of the protective forest border. Currently, the situation of landslides on the West Coast is becoming more and more dangerous. In addition, the East Coast has a dangerous landslide length of about 48 km, in which, the highly dangerous landslide of about 29.5 km is concentrated in Tam Giang Dong communes (Nam Can district), Dat Mui commune, Tan An commune and Rach Goc town (Ngoc Hien district). Seriously, even in places where there is no longer a protective forest area, waves directly threaten the groin, risking the lives of more than tens of thousands of households living along the coast and over 120,000 hectares of agricultural land.


Hoi An, one of the most famous towns in Vietnam, is facing serious problems from coastal erosion, threatening the life of people there and the future of the growing local tourism industry. After only 7 years between 2013 and 2020, the entire Hoi An coast with more than 7km has been seriously eroded. Cua Dai beach is no longer available, moreover, An Bang and Tan Thanh beach are likely to disappear in just 1 to 2 years' time. The worst landslide was in the rainy and stormy season in 2020, when many restaurants and resorts were seriously affected, and nearly 8 km of Hoi An coast were strongly affected by waves.

The coastal side of Hoi An is being heavily affected by erosion


Solutions


In 2021, Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh signed a decision approving the project "Protecting and developing forests in coastal areas to respond to climate change and promote green growth in the 2021-2030 period". The objective of the Project is to (1) manage, protect and sustainably use forests of existing coastal forests and newly created forests in the period of 2021-2030, to (2) effectively promote the role and function of forests in coastal areas in the protection of the environment and infrastructure systems in coastal areas, to (3) combat desertification and land degradation, to (4) conserve biodiversity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to (5) create jobs and incomes for people in coastal areas, contribute to socio-economic development, protect the environment and strengthen national defence and security, reduce natural disasters, and effectively respond to climate change and sea level rise.


The main task of the Project is to effectively manage, protect and use the existing coastal forest area, especially the area of protection forests, special-use forests and production forests which are natural forests in the coastal areas. Specifically, 20,000 ha of new forests are to be planted, including 9,800 ha of protection forests for stopping waves and encroaching on the sea (mangroves), 10,200 ha of wind and sand protection forest (on soil and sand sites), in which, in the period of 2021-2025, 11,000 ha will be planted.


Additional planting for reforestation and forest enrichment 15,000 ha, including 6,800 ha of protection forest for wave break and sea encroachment (mangrove), 8,200 ha of wind- and sand-blocking protection forest (on soil and sand sites), in which, in the period of 2021-2025, additional planting for reforestation and forest enrichment is required for 9,000 ha. The project also includes capacity building and livelihood development for communities, people participating in forest protection and development in coastal areas.


An innovative solution is to use new materials that are more affordable and long-lasting. In Ben Tre, a new project is using embankment works to reduce waves to protect the coast in Thanh Phong commune. The project consists of a 1.1km long line running parallel to the coast 100m and 3 embankments of welding mines 325m long. The construction material is a Geotube bag filled with sand, with the total cost of nearly 15 billion VND (about 500.000 GBP), which is 1/5 cheaper than the "hard" solution (concrete).

Soft breakwaters made of Geotube materials effectively stop waves. Photo: Minh Dam.
Soft breakwaters made of Geotube materials effectively stop waves. Photo: Minh Dam.

In addition, provinces and cities need to promote research and application of science and technology in service of landslide prevention and control, while strengthening the international cooperation in research, information sharing, data and experience in preventing and combating riverbank and coastal erosion. Localities also need to take advantage of technical and financial support from countries and international organisations for landslide prevention and control, proactively allocate state budget, increase mobilisation of non-budget resources, especially resources from the private sector, businesses and people to benefit from bank erosion prevention and control.


Source: the Internet




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