Author: Kathleen Buckingham
This is the first installment of our Restoration Global Tour blog series. The series examines restoration success stories in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America. Tune in over the coming months for additional installments, or check out our Restoration Diagnostic for more information.
A history of deforestation has made Asian nations like Vietnam, China and South Korea especially vulnerable to coastal storms, floods and sandstorms. Yet just as these nations have experienced similar crises, they’re also all pursuing a solution—restoring degraded landscapes.
In fact, reforestation, afforestation and changing agricultural policies have played a large role in bringing these countries from the brink to prosperity. WRI recently analyzed Asia’s restoration practices to inform the design of our Restoration Diagnostic, a method for evaluating existing and missing success factors for countries or landscapes with restoration opportunities. Here’s a look at how these countries overcame disasters by restoring degraded land:
Protecting Mangroves in Vietnam
Vietnam has lost more than 80 percent of its mangrove forests since the 1950s. During the American War with Vietnam (1955–75), the U.S. military sprayed 36 percent of the mangroves with defoliant in order to destroy strongholds for military resistance. Since then, extensive areas have been converted into aquaculture, agricultural lands, salt beds and human settlements. More than 102,000 hectares (252,000 acres) of mangroves were cleared for shrimp farming from 1983 to 1987 alone.
With diminishing mangroves, the country’s coast became increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters like tropical cyclones. Over the past 30 years, more than 500 people died or went missing every year due to natural disasters, thousands were injured, and annual economic losses totaled 1.5 percent of GDP.