The Importance of Floodplain Restoration for Mangroves

Submitted by Meadow Poplawsky | published 22nd Feb 2022 | last updated 3rd May 2022
Floodplain Restoration
mangrove trees on flooded ground with a green canopy

Photo by Timothy K on Unsplash

Introduction

As more and more people face the negative impacts of climate change, nature is increasingly used to provide cost-effective and efficient solutions. Nature-based solutions are actions that protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems. This provides human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

Mangroves are a good example of nature-based solutions. They grow between land and sea in the inter-tidal area and provide a lot of benefits for humans. These benefits to the surrounding communities include:

  • erosion control
  • coastal protection
  • carbon sequestration
  • habitats for aquatic wildlife
  • source of raw materials and food

However, mangroves as a nature-based solution require healthy floodplains, and the floodplains must be restored before mangroves can thrive. This article provides a brief overview of floodplain restoration for mangrove nature-based solutions. For the full information, watch the video. 

Human Use of Mangroves

Many coastal communities in Vietnam have their livelihoods supported by mangrove forests. They have been able to gather firewood, fish, and shellfish from mangroves and the surrounding mudflats. These are economic drivers that supplement their income. However, increased climatic variability and these livelihood activities have damaged the mangroves over time through mangrove degradation and destruction, erosion of the mudflats, stronger and bigger waves hitting the dykes, erosion of the dykes, and waves overtopping and flooding the land behind the dyke.

Floodplain Restoration for Thriving Mangroves

​However, it's not as easy as just planting more mangroves, because mangroves cannot be planted when the sediments they need to grow in have been eroded. Along muddy coasts, the eroded foreshore must be restored as a precondition for mangrove regeneration and rehabilitation. 

This has been addressed by many projects, including a 2012 GIZ project on the management of natural resources in the coastal zones of Soc Trang province. The project took an ecosystem-based approach to restore eroded floodplains. T-shaped bamboo fences, which reduce weight, stimulate sedimentation, protect the dyke from erosion, and protect the land behind the dyke from the impact of waves, were installed. Once the foreshore has been restored, mangroves will regenerate naturally as long as they are protected from destruction by humans. Mangroves are among the most economically valuable of all ecosystems, providing monetary benefits of $2,000-$9,900 per hectare per year.  

The successful implementation of floodplain restoration in Vietnam is anchored on the following key principles:

  • ​support and capacity-building for local communities so they can maintain the solution
  • engagement of local authorities for commitment and long-term support
  • co-management and joint decision-making about natural resource restoration
  • multi-stakeholder participation, awareness, and ownership
  • know-how about coastal processes, dynamics, and engineering​

Nature-based solutions help communities adapt to climate change, however they depend on healthy ecosystems with stakeholders working together to ensure success and sustainability.