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Orchard, SE; Stringer, LC; Quinn, CH (2015)
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Journal: Regional Environmental Change
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: Global and Planetary Change
Across Southeast Asia, human activity has caused rapid mangrove system degradation and loss. In Vietnam, a country undergoing economic transition, mangrove systems are vital to the livelihoods of coastal rural communities. This paper studies three mangrove system-dependent communities on Vietnam’s northern coast. Guided by the sustainable livelihood framework, the paper adopts a mixed methods approach. It presents current uses of mangrove system goods and the factors shaping past livelihood responses to mangrove system change, using livelihood trajectory analysis. Findings demonstrate that communities depend on mangrove systems to different degrees for income, subsistence and to respond to change. However, the rapid development of aquaculture is associated with a significantly reduced and degraded mangrove system commons necessary to support the livelihoods of low-income households. Three distinct livelihood trajectories are identified: consolidator groups able to use their access to a wide range of resources, locked into resilient trajectories; accumulator groups able to use their access to limited resources to move from vulnerable to more resilient trajectories; and marginalised groups facing increasingly reduced access to resources locked into vulnerable trajectories. Vietnam faces challenges in reconciling a more market-orientated economy with the maintenance of mangrove system functions and processes that shape the vulnerability and resilience of livelihood trajectories. Policies and projects promoting the sustainable management of mangrove systems should acknowledge the substantial contribution and multiple uses of mangrove systems in livelihoods, particularly of the poor, and the impact of aquaculture on income equality and livelihood diversity that shapes household resilience and vulnerability.
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