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Impact of MAngrove exploitation of the Benthic ecosystem and assessment of Ecological quality objectives -Vietnam and Belgium cooperation
  Backgroup of Project
  • Origin of the idea

Since 1995 year the unit for studying biodiversity of aquatic nematode belongs to the Department of Nematology, IEBRV, NCST Vietnam has been built by Dr. Nguyen Vu Thanh and he expressed the idea of being interested to start research on aquatic nematodes, as a bio-indicator tool for research bio-monitoring and pollution, a non-explored field in Vietnam.

  • steps undertaken to further elaborate the idea
  • Through mediation of Drs. N. Smol (the PINC co-ordinator) Dr. Nguyen Vu Thanh, Deputy Head of Nematology Department and colleague of Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Chau, was granted a scholarship to participate in the Darwin Initiative Project Nematode biodiversity and worldwide pollution monitoring Workshop in Plymouth, England (another centre for research of marine nematodes), twice for one week in 2000 and 2001.
  • In November 2000 professors E. Geraert A. Coomans, M. Moens and Drs . N. Smol, co-ordinator, of the ICP-Nematology were invited by Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Chau for a scientific visit to Hanoi at the occasion of the inauguration of the new building of the IEBR-NCST. During that week Dr. Nguyen Vu THANH expressed his strong interest in a co-operation with the Marine Section of Ghent University and handed over a first project proposal entitled : “Investigation of the biodiversity of marine nematodes and polychaetes in a mangrove forest of Southern coastline Vietnam” to N. Smol This project proposal was discussed and in view of this proposal N. Smol visited Prof. Doan Canh at the Institute of Tropical Biology, Department of Environmental Ecology, NCST, Ho Chi Minh City, as well as the Can Gio mangrove region.
  • Since 1995, yearly one or two candidates from Vietnam were selected for a VLIR-grant to participate in the ICP-Nematology. Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Chau belonged to the first batch of 1995-1996. Due to the fact that he already had a PhD degree he could easily start a nematology group in his institute and every year he nominated at least one candidate. This resulted in an active group of nematologists in Hanoi , working on the taxonomy of soil, plant-and insect-parasitic nematodes and on the applied aspects related to banana. Being the largest group of alumni per country, the idea raised of a critical mass of nematologists in Hanoi , which could become selected as a future reference centre for South-East Asia and the best place for future workshops or Nematology courses in the South. Moreover Dr . Nguyen Ngoc Chau excelled in regular contact through e-mail and interesting contributions for the PINC-Newsletter.
  • The benthic team at IEBR, Hanoi and the team of prof. Doan Canh at Ho Chi Minh City decided to write a project proposal and to recommend Dr Nguyen Vu Thanh as project coordinator. This project proposal was discussed with N. Smol and sent to profs. M. Vincx, A. Vanreusel and Drs. Smol of Ghent University for approval.
  • description of the previous activities in the same field undertaken by any of the promoters

The Flemish promoter has experience in the same field at different levels:

  • Her PhD concerned the impact of the storm surge barrier on the ecology of free-living marine nematodes in the Dutch Delta region. In this study relevant indicators for effect of physical and chemical disturbance on the marine ecosystem were identified.
  • Promoter of a MSc thesis on the impact of contamination due to aquaculture in coastal area of the Philippines , and a MSc thesis on the nematode communities of different vegetation zones of a mangrove in Thailand (ECOMAMA, VUB)
  • She accompanied a PhD thesis at the university of Port Elizabeth (South Africa) on the impact of pollution in two south African estuaries
  • She participated in many research projects on impact of anthropogenic activities on the benthos that took place at the marine biology section (Ghent of University) with Prof. Magda Vincx as promoter

Education

  • Lecturer for course on Biodiversity of Benthos in post graduate course at VUB (ECOMAMA) in post graduate course at VUB (ECOMAMA)
  • Lecturer for course in Bio statistics in post graduate course at VUB (ECOMAMA) in post graduate course at VUB (ECOMAMA)
  • Lecturer for course on Ecology and population dynamics of free-living marine nematodes in post graduate course Nematology at RUG (PINC)
  • Lecturer for course on Multivariate statistics in framework of Ecuador VLIR project in Guayaquil , Ecuador (Promoter Prof M. Vincx)
  • Training of tens of MSc and PhD students in the field of ecology and taxonomy of free-living marine nematodes

The Vietnamese promoter:

During 1999-2001, Dr. Nguyen Vu Thanh and Prof. Doan Canh carried out initial surveys on biodiversity of estuarine and marine benthos (meio- and macrobenthos) in Ha Long Bay (North Vietnam) and Thi Vai River estuary (South Vietnam). The initial results of these investigations show differences in composition and structure of the benthic communities and the analyses revealed the potential use of nematodes, polychaetes and molluscs for environmental quality of the investigated ecosystems.

Based on preliminary progress, the benthic team at IEBR was gathered and considered to focus further research on the Ho Chi Minh-Dong Nai River basin, where exists one of the largest mangrove forests of the country. This area is situated downstream of Ho Chi Minh City and is characterized by environmental problems caused by former extensive use of herbicides (during the war) as well as recent impact by anthropogenic activities (industries, pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture, aquaculture).  

  • description of the process followed to formulate the Letter of Intent and formulate the full-fledged proposal.

1. Formulation of the letter of intent

Contacts with Flemish colleagues involved in research in Vietnam in order to obtain information about South Vietnam from their point of view and to get an overview what has been done and where.

  • Prof. Dr. N. De Pauw (Lab. of Environmental toxicology and aquatic ecology) explained the water quality in Ho Chi Minh City and gave information about the "Canal Tan Hoa – Lo Gom sanitation and urban upgrading project"
  • Prof. Dr. C. Janssen (Lab. of Environmental toxicology and aquatic ecology) explained the feasibility of identifying the risk assessment of pollutants in benthic organisms
  • Prof. Dr. M. Van Den Heede (Lab. of Environmental toxicology and aquatic ecology) guided in retrieving information about the 'Agent orange' and where it can be analysed

Contact with Greet Schoeters of VITO: about the possibility of analysing the dioxins of 'Agent Orange' and the cost prise

Contacts with Vietnamese partners, mainly Dr. Nguyen Vu Thanh and Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Chau, through e-mail, in order to discuss the objectives of the project, which became more developmental oriented than the original project proposal of Dr. Nguyen Vu Thanh. Also to obtain the detailed information necessary for writing the letter of intent

2. Formulation of the full-fledged proposal

After approval of the letter of intent, a thorough search for all relevant background information on the area (mapping of socio-economical areas, identification of pristine and impacted areas, present information on organic and inorganic contamination, present information on biodiversity realm (birds, vertebrates).

Elaboration of a draft problem tree and an associated objective tree. Preparation of a logic framework including the (re) evaluation of the originally formulated overall and specific objectives, and the detailed identification of the main activities per year. These draft forms were mainly worked out by the Belgian promoter A nn Vanreusel and her collaborating senior scientist and coordinator of the Nematology Course, Nic Smol. At some stages of the development of the problem tree concerning risk assessment Prof Dr. C. Janssen was consulted together with his collaborating Senior scientist Miss Lien Thi Hong Nguyen.

These draft forms were forwarded to the Vietnamese partner and promoter for an initial screening for interest (by stakeholders), feasibility and relevancy. After evaluation together with his staff of senior scientists, some problems (objectives) were readjusted, resulting in a first revised version of the problem and objective tree. Also the local partner as elaborated in the logic framework screened activities on their relevancy.

For each activity, potential contributors and participators (local and Flemish) were identified by both promoters

Potential stakeholders and contributors to the project were invited for a workshop in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) in order to

  • discuss and further readjust the problem and objective tree
  • complete the list of activities in the logical framework
  • identify final (local) contributors (who can provide what?) and assign their specific tasks
  • take note of interest of stakeholders
  • discuss financial implications and estimate budgets involved

After completion of the workshop all outcome (adjusted forms and other) is forwarded to the Flemish promoter and her group to do a final screening on relevancy and feasibility and to fill in gaps in terms of not yet identified contributors for particular activities.

Contact is made with UNESCO office In Paris to inform them on our initiative

Contact is made with Prof. P De Maeyer (Department Geography) of the University of Ghent to inform for their possible contribution in relation to GIS cartography on the study area. Dr. B. De Vliegher has already sent some information.

Contact is made with Prof. L. Hens of Human Ecology Department, VUB, to retrieve information about his research on human ecology in Vietnam .

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Admin: Nguyen Dinh Tu