Intensive rice production is the predominant cause for the loss of biodiversity and resilience to climate change in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta. Today, less than 5% of the natural wetlands of the Delta remain. In order to intensively grow rice in the upper-delta deep flood zone, traditional low dyke systems that have supported 2 rice crops in a year while allowing floods to enter the dyke system in the flood season, have been converted into high dykes that displace the floods so that a third rice crop can be grown.
Photo: Diversified lotus farming systems as flood retention areas © IUCN Viet Nam
This costly hard infrastructure has disrupted the natural flood pulse of the Mekong Delta and reduced the amount of wetlands with devastating impacts on the aquatic biodiversity that underpins the fisheries livelihoods of particularly poor people, and the loss of sediment replenishment necessary for agricultural sustainability.