TGCC Report: Vietnam Mangrove Co-Management Study Tour for Tien Lang District Pilot

In order to identify an appropriate mangrove co-management approach for the three communes of Tien Lang district under the Vietnam Forests and Deltas (VFD)/Tenure and Global Climate Change Program (TGCC) pilot, the first step involved learning directly from the experiences of two other communes where mangrove co-management approaches have been introduced. Da Loc commune in Thanh Hoa province and Dong Rui commune in Quang Ninh province have significantly different experiences with reducing mangrove loss and increasing mangrove cover. The study tour involved key members of the three communes visiting these two sites to meet with local government officials, community members and other stakeholders. This report sets out the key findings and lessons from the study tour.

Participants: 43 people from VVFD/TGCC; the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) of Tien Lang district; non-governmental organizations of Tien Lang; and, staff of the three project communes of Dong Hung, Tien Hung, and Vinh Quang and its coastal villages.

Date and Time: February 20 to 24, 2017

Study Area: Da Loc commune, Hau Loc district, Thanh Hoa province; and Dong Rui commune, Tien Yen district, Quang Ninh province.

Purpose of Study Tour: To understand the mangrove forest co-management system and the specific steps to develop and maintain the mangrove forest co-management mechanism and how it can inform mangrove co-management approach in Tien Lang district.

Expected Outcomes:

  • 1.1 Understand the co-management mechanism shared by Da Loc and Dong Rui communes;
  • 1.2 Understand the specific steps for legal basis and development of co-management mechanism;
  • 1.3 Understand the content of the rules for co-management such as access, use, management and exclusion; and,
  • 1.4 Understand how to choose and maintain commune and village level co-management groups.

The study tours were well-organized and led by the TGCC team and leaders of Da Loc and Dong Rui communities. Both sides had time to share and understand the steps involved in establishing and maintaining mangrove co-management systems at the commune levels. Strengths and weaknesses were discussed and recommendations were made to develop more legal policies in order to support implementation of Decree 119/2016/ND-CP. Lessons learned from Da Loc and Dong Rui indicate that it would be better if the existing structure of “village rules”1 could be used to establish mangrove co-management rules including, specific rules on payment of mangrove environmental services.

As a result of this study tour, participating members from Tien Lang district and three project communes now have a good understanding of what is required to prepare and establish a mangrove co-management system that will work for the Tien Lang context in 2017.

Da Loc Commune Study Tour
One team of 25 representatives (28% female) spent one day visiting Da Loc commune of Hau Loc district in Thanh Hoa province on February 21, 2017. The team included three TGCC staff; one staff member each from VFD office of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Farmer’s Union at the district level, the district Red Cross Society Unit, and the commune-level Youth Union; two district-level DARD staff; four staff from Women’s Union at the district and commune levels; five staff of Commune People’s Committees (CPCs); and, six heads of coastal villages of communes of Dong Hung, Tien Hung and Vinh Quang. The team was welcomed by representatives of DARD of Thanh Hoa province and representatives of Da Loc commune and its three coastal village heads. The Da Loc team shared their current approach to management of mangroves in their communes and districts and general information about the prevailing social-economic situation. The TGCC team explained the background and objectives of the pilot project in Tien Lang.

Da Loc commune was badly affected by Typhoon Damry in 2005. It caused a sea dyke section to break due to mangrove loss in 2005. Over 20 years, mangroves were planted in front of sea dyke sections by several mangrove plantation projects, including CARE International’s support from 2007 to 2014, leading to better protection of Da Loc’s sea dykes. The Da Loc co-management system and how it was established from 2009 to 2014 was shared with study tour members who raised many questions to better understand the process. The strengths in Da Loc commune were that several well-trained teams were established for mangrove plantation, mangrove seedling nursery development, and mangrove protection teams. While these were not well-maintained after the project ended in 2014, community members still know how to plant and protect mangroves. One of the weak points of the co-management approach in Da Loc commune was the decision to create a fixed-term decision for co-management governance arrangement made by the District People’s Committee (DPC) that only ran until 2014 but was not extended thereafter. In addition, although village regulations were discussed and agreed by community members and the CPC, Da Loc representatives agreed that village co-management regulations would be better off using the official format of village rules so that they would be verified by the legal division of the district government and approved by DPC to get stronger enforcement. Lastly, the annual protection fees paid by the central state budget of Vietnam to a coastal guard station in Da Loc commune has not yet been shared with CPC and village mangrove co-management groups. As a result, there are no ongoing funds to support the mangrove management work.

On the way to Thanh Hoa city, the visitors also observed an event showing conflicts over benefits from coastal land use for lime production and clean development planning. It was clear that agreements on land use planning should be discussed, agreed to, and respected by all parties who have rights and benefits.

There were clear justifications seen here for the use of geospatial mapping and participatory planning in Vietnam. The content of the Decree 119/2016/ND-CP focuses on the importance of different contract modalities to support mangrove conservation as well as master planning for coastal forests. The “Our Coast – Our Future” pilot project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is developing a participatory mapping approach as part of its five-step participatory coastal spatial planning and mangrove governance pilot work. The participatory mapping guidelines were shared with members of Da Loc commune.

Dong Rui Commune Study Tour
One team of 22 members (23% female) spent the day visiting Dong Rui commune of Tien Yen district in Quang Ninh province on February 23, 2017. The team included three TGCC staff; two Red Cross staff at the commune level; one staff member from Fatherland Front: two staff from Youth Union; one staff person from Women’s Union; five staff of CPCs of communes of Dong Hung, Tien Hung, and Vinh Quang; and, eight coastal village heads. Visitors were welcomed by leaders of Dong Rui commune and one village head. The hosts made a clear presentation about how mangroves had been cut down and then have been restored with support of various external donors. The co-management system was established in 2005 with support of the European Commission (EC)/United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Global Environmental Facility (GEF) project.

Co-management teams in four villages have been functioning on a voluntary basis provided by team members; only monitoring travel costs have been covered by the co-management revolving funds which are well maintained and have increased 20%, from 83 million Vietnamese Dong (VND) at the start of the co-management system to more than 100 million VND today. Strengths of the co-management system include: an open term length for the DPC decision on co-management; good co-management teams in villages; commune leaders who are brave and skillful in getting back abandoned shrimp ponds from companies; the commitment of individuals in restoring mangroves in shrimp ponds; and, revolving funds to generate income for co-management system costs. One weakness in Dong Rui commune is that the CPC and village co-management teams have not received any annual protection fee from the state budget to date since the DPC and Forest Ranger units do not understand their key and important management roles in the co-management system. The community shares its role to manage and protect mangroves with CPC and DPC, but does not take over their primary roles of mangrove management. Information about the decree 119/2016/ND-CP as well as details of the TGCC pilot project on participatory coastal spatial planning and mangrove co-management funded by USAID were shared with representatives of Dong Rui commune.

Sharing and Learning From Study Tour
Forty-three members of the two study tours met together on February 24, 2017 in the Tien Lang DPC office to debrief and share what they had learnt and what the strengths and weaknesses of co-management models in Da Loc and Dong Rui communes were. They were divided into four groups to share their learning. The tour participants discussed and agreed on the next steps in order to identify how to establish the mangrove co-management system in three communes of Tien Lang from now to December 2017. Three of the four group work presenters were women: two were deputy chairwomen of CPCs, and one was a staff member of Commune Women’s Union. Female members are very actively participating in the TGCC project in Tien Lang district.

As output of the two learning study tours and subsequent discussions, the participants suggested five key steps for a mangrove co-management system for Tien Lang district:

  • establishment of a legal framework which would be a DPC decision on mangrove co-management;
  • development and approval of regulations on co-management at the village level;
  • establishment of commune and village co-management teams;
  • communication and dissemination of co-management regulations;
  • monitoring and evaluation.

In the report below, information on the general coastal context of the commune is followed by an examination of the mangrove co-management approach. The report concludes with a discussion about how the findings relate to the mangrove co-management needs in Tien Lang.