The special geographical position, along with the influence of the tide, has enabled Can Gio mangrove forest to receive a great deal of silt from the Dong Nai river and be endowed with rich and unique animals and plants, which has become the supply of food and sanctuary for both aquatic organisms and on-land vertebrates.
The forest is considered a “green lung” of the southwestern region, making the climate equable and preventing natural calamities.
The forest is populated by ‘Sac’, a type of mangrove tree, along with Aegiceras corniculatum (‘Su’), Bruguiera cylindrica (‘Vet’) and Rhizophora apiculata (‘Duoc’), which together form a large group of trees that are able to encroach on the sea.
In the 17th century, the forest counted 42,000 ha of primeval forest with hundreds of water birds and aquatic organisms such as shrimp, crab, fish and amphibians, as well as innumerable crocodiles.
However, from 1962 and 1971, this place became a “land of death” as a consequence of the US War and deforestation. Many species disappeared.
In 1985, local residents and soldiers strived to revitalise the forest. Their efforts were paid off with tens of hectares of the forest successfully revived and 60 flora species and dozens of water birds, such as pelicans, storks, and cranes, returning for sheltering.
After 30 years of restoration, about 30,500 ha of Can Gio mangrove forest has been recovered, creating a favourable habitat for many animals and plants.
The forest is now home to 157 flora, 70 invertebrate and aquatic species and 130 types of bird, along with 31 different reptiles, 11 of which are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book, such as geckos, pythons and cobras.
It has become an eco-tourism site and a place for domestic and foreign scientists to do more research about the botanical system there.
Vietnam is among the countries hardest hit by climate change, with its coastal region an extremely vulnerable area. Community-based management and development of mangrove forests has been underlined as effective way to strengthen coastal resilience against climate change.
The country has about 200,000 ha of mangrove forests.