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A Case study: Sea for Socio-Economic Master Plan of Tonkin Gulf Coastal Economic Region
Vietnam has a long coastal line of over 3,260 km lasting through 28 provinces from Quangninh province in the North to Kiengiang province in the South. The offshore area  of Vietnam is over 1.0 mil km2 or over 3.0 times wider than the land area. Over 50% of the population living and conducting economic activities in the coastal provinces. Therefore, Vietnam has set up a long – term “sea strategy” toward 2020 with the target that the GDP of the coastal region will occupy 53-55% of the total national GDP [1]. This development tendency will greatly increase national economic power but it will also cause various adverse impacts on the coastal and marine environment.
In the World and in Vietnam many approaches and measures may be properly used for coastal and marine environment management. However, in prevention of negative environmental and social impacts in the stage of socio-economic planning strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is a very effective tool [2-4].
To prove this point of view the following summary of a case study of SEA for the Socio- Economic Master Plan for the Tonkin Gulf Coastal Economic Region (TGCER), implemented by VESDEC with support for the Swedish SEMLA Program and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE)[5] may be given.

2.1.     Brief Description of Socio-Economic Master Plan
TGCER includes 2 coastal provinces of Vietnam: Quangninh province and Haiphong city. The Master Plan for socio-economic development of the TGCER consists of 2 main components:
(i)  Development plan for “driving force areas”;
(ii) Development plan for economic sectors.
 The aim of the Master Plan is to establish the TGCER to be a dynamic economic region, a “vigorous growth pole” attracting a large territory in the Northern Vietnam; it is also a primary integration area of Vietnam and China with ASEAN countries, at the same time it connects to other coastal provinces to establish a economic belt lasting from Mongcai in the Northern Vietnam to Hatien in the Southern Vietnam to develop quickly and promote other inland areas of Vietnam [6].
A number of development objectives are set out, which are as  follows:
(i)  Establishing a transport system in the economic belt especially main coastal axis routes from Mongcai to Doson in order to link with the Vietnam-China Economic Corridors and the Southern China, creating conditions to widen trade and development cooperation with China and ASEAN countries effectively and actively.
(ii) Forming and developing a number of main sectors including marine transport, ship building, thermo-electricity, mining, mechanics, construction materials production, oil and gas processing, aquaculture processing…to reach advanced level in ASEAN.
(iii) Assuring economic growth rate is 1.4-1.5 times higher than national GDP growth rate; total good circulation through the Economic Belt increases more than 20%/year. By 2020, the TGCER will contribute to the whole country GDP about 6.5%-7%; GDP per capita achieves USD 3,500-4000 [6].

Figure 1. Map of planned transport systems
Figure 2. Map of planned industrial and urban areas
2.2.          Main Coastal Environmental Objectives to be Impacted by the Implementation of the Master Plan
Various social and environmental objectives would be affected by implementation of the Master Plan. However, the following ones are most sensitive and most important in term  of ecological resources and socio-economic values:
(i)   Halong Bay, included islets and an area of 1.5.53 km2 of sea surface (Figure 3). This is an UNESCO’ Natural Heritage and one of the most beautiful bay in the World. Halong Bay is host to two ecosystems: a tropical, moist, evergreen rainforest ecosystem; and a marine and coastal ecosystem. The bay is home to seven endemic species. The many islands that dot the bay are home to a great many other species, including 477 magnoliales, 12 pteris, 20 salt marsh flora; and 4amphibia, 10 reptilia, 40 aves, and 4 mammalia.
In 2015 2.5 million domestic and international tourists visited Halong Bay.

Figure 3: Halong Bay (left)    Langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus) in Catba National Park (right)

(ii)  Catba National Park and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve includes a main island, 367 islets and sea surface of 260 km2 (Figure 3) with a great biodiversity reserve. The fauna on the island consists of 279 species, including 53 mammal species from 18 families, and 23 endangered and critically endangered species. There are 160 bird species, 66 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 274 species of insects from 79 different families. Aquatically, there are 900 sea fish, 178 species of coral, 7 species of sea snakes, 4 species of sea turtles, and 21 species of seaweed found throughout the archipelago.
(iii)  A number of natural reserves at the coastal and inland areas (Figure 4).
(iv)  A number of tourist centers at cities of Mongcai, Halong, Haihong, Doson…

Figure 4. Map of natural reserves and natural parks in the TGCER
Figure 5. Map of present forest areas in the TGCER
2.3.        Potential Impact Sources to the Coastal and Marine Environment
2.3.1.      Relating-to-Waste Impact Sources
According to the Master Plan, by the year 2020, total population in the TGCER will achieve 3.8 million inhabitants (2.20 times higher than that in 2010), of which population of Haiphong city will be 1.4-1.5 million inhabitants, Halong city will have a population of 0.6 million inhabitants. Urbanization in 2007 was 59% and it will increase to 80% in 2020.
Additionally, the TGCER will have 25 industrial parks with total areas of 22,128.5 ha; in which 9,948.3 ha are for rent. Beside industrial parks, in the TGCER, there are 20 industrial clusters, thousands industrial entities outside industrial parks, industrial clusters and almost 100,000 small scale industries located in commercial zones, residential areas or handy-craft villages with the main branches: building materials, energy, pottery, porcelain, mechanics, shipbuilding, chemistry, metallurgy, mechanics. Among them, coal industry is the traditional one with the largest scale comparing with other regions in Vietnam.
Wastes generating by the planned industrial development, urban development and population growth are main pollution sources. Additionally, wastes generated from agricultural, animal husbandry, medical centers and tourism will also significant pollution sources for the coastal and marine environment. Data on pollution loads are estimated as follows.
(i)     By 2020, if the whole area of industries are hired, daily wastewater discharge will reach 636,697 m³, BOD load in wastewaters will reach 108,238 kg. If adding flow of cooling water in electric plants, industrial wastewater flow will be very great if total capacity of electric plants is 6,000 MW, total cooling water discharge will reach 10,368,000 m³/day.
Beside industrial parks, in 2020, industrial wastewater from industrial clusters, factories, production entities outside industrial parks will increase quickly. Sectors with the biggest wastewater flow are food processing (meat, aquatic product, breweries), dyeing, tanning, metallurgy and chemistry. Most of these entities base in Haiphong city.
(ii)      By 2020 BOD load estimated from urban wastewater will be 190 tons/day; from rural area wastewater will be 47.5 tons/day. BOD content in wastewater before treatment will be 347 mg/L, greatly exceeding the permissible limit of Vietnam Standard for Domestic Wastewater (QCVN: 14/2008/BTNMT).
(iii)      According to the Master Plan, the area of agricultural land in the TGCER will be reduced; however, annual productivities of food and vegetable will continually increase in 3-4%. Therefore, types of wastes from agricultural activities and runoff water from fields treated by pesticides, fertilizers will be a great water pollution sources .
(iv)       In 2020, the total amounts of hospital solid wastes in Quangninh will be up to 3,600 tons (720 tons of hazardous solid wastes), in Haiphong there will be up to 4,800 tons (960 of hazardous solid wastes). Medical solid wastes in the whole TGCER will reach 8,400 tons, increasing 6 times against 2003.
According to the Master Plan, the TGCER will attract 15.0 million tourists in 2020, in which, there are 6.5-7.0 million of international tourists, the total amounts of domestic solid wastes generated by tourists will be 56,250 tons in 2020 (2.0 times higher than that in 2010). In 2020 discharge of wastewater by tourists will reach 37.5 million m³ (2.0 times higher against 2010), if it is assumed that each visitor consumes 200 L water/day.
Therefore, with the fast growth rates of population, economic sectors and living standard, growth rates of wastes from all sources of industry, domestic activities, animal husbandry, agriculture and health care in the Tonkin Gulf Coastal Economic Region will be very fast in a short period of time (10 years). Therefore, the pressure of wastes to the coastal and marine environment, as well as public health and socio- economy in this zone will be greatly increased. The main area to be polluted would be Halong Bay, Baitulong Bay and coastal lines of Haiphong and Quangninh provinces.

2.3.2.      Non-Relating-to-Waste Impact Sources
The Master Plan is an ambitious which may create significantly change in land use, water use, marine resources, biological resource and coastal ecological zone. This non- relating to waste-impacts may be even stronger, longer and more difficult to be mitigated than the relating-to-waste impacts.
According to the Plan, a large area of agricultural land, forestry land and coastal saline swamps will be occupied for development projects in transport (roads, ports, and airports), industrial parks, economic zones, commercial areas, urban areas, tourism areas. Among them the largest area of land will be used for the following purposes.
- Land area occupied for transport projects are estimated as 8,670 ha (86.7 km²)
-  Land area occupied for 2 economic zones will be 680.48  km²
-  Land area occupied for industrial parks will be up to 221.285 km² (in Haiphong city, there will be 14 industrial parks with total area of 86.597 km²; Quangninh province will have 11 industrial parks with total area of 134.688 km²).
-  Land area used for urban areas may be 2 times higher than the present area of urban land: the area of urban zone of Haiphong city may be up to 40% of total area of the  city or it is double area of the present urban districts; the urban area of Halong city may be also double after 15 years; area of Mongcai town may be increased in 3 times comparing with current area.
-  Land area used for tourism zones: it can be estimated additional growth area to be used for tourism constructions. It is about 500 km² to obtain 15-16 million tourists/year (2.5 times higher than present number of tourists).
From above mentioned information, it can be predicted that from now to 2020, about 2,000 km² of agricultural land, forestry land, mountain land, coastal land or about 27% in total natural land area of 2 provinces will be transferred to land using for expanding transport, industrial, urban  and tourism projects. A large coastal land, included  saline 
swamps and mangrove area, will be acquired, consequently, coastal ecosystems would be seriously damaged
2.4.        Tendency of Change in the Coastal and Marine Environment
2.4.1.        Preliminary Assessment of Changing Tendency of the Coastal and Marine Environment
With expansion of urban areas, development of more industrial parks, industrial clusters, economic zones, commercial zones, new infrastructure works, from now to 2020, land resources in the TGCER will be changed rapidly in the direction of transferring costal, agricultural and forestry land to construction land.
About 200,000 ha of land will be transferred to construction land. Areas where land resources to be greatly changed are Vandon district (Quangninh) with 50% of natural land transferred for construction works; Haiha and Damha district (Quangninh) with about 16.5 % of natural land transferred for building Haiha industrial park (12,930 ha); Yenhung district (Quangninh) with 19.6% of natural land changed for establishing Damnhamac industrial-service park, Thuynguyen, Kienthuy districts (Haiphong city) with more 5,000 ha to to be occupied expansion of Haiphong city.
The transference of agricultural and forestry land, coastal swamps to construction land will cause following problems:
-   Changing terrain, possibly resulting to soil slide and soil erosion, especially soil in mountainous areas in the coastal districts of Quangninh province.
-   Changing ecosystems in coastal zones especially mangrove ecosystem if saline swamps is transferred to construction land. Consequently, area of mangrove forests is reduced, which leads to decrease of wave breaking ability, causing coastal erosion and decrease of aquaculture area.
-   Decreasing area of vegetation cover, especially when expanding urban areas, developing Damha Economic Zone, Damnhamac Industry- Sevice Zone and industrial parks. Reduction of vegetation cover will decrease biological diversity, water storing ability, groundwater resource, increase of erosion process, flood intensity and impacts of climate change . The expansion of roads, harbors, urban areas, tourism areas may violate the area of Catba Biosphere Reserve, Halong Bay Heritage, Natural Conserve areas as Baitulong, Kythuong, Yentu, consequently may cause adverse effect on the environment and culture of the region.

2.4.2.      Changing Tendency of Coastal and Marine Water Quality
As predicted in this SEA by 2020, in the TGCER, the BOD load of wastewaters from industrial parks will be increased in 7.3 times, discharge of domestic wastewater will be increased in 2.0 times, comparing with the ones in 2010. If including wastewaters from industrial clusters, entities outside industrial parks, and from the sectors of animal husbandry, aquaculture, the discharge of wastewaters and load of pollutants discharge into the water and land environment will much higher.

 There are not sufficient bases to forecast the increase in concentrations of pollutants in the sea and rivers of the TGCER. However, the areas which will be polluted significantly comparing with ones at present if there is no effective solution to manage and treat waste source.
2.4.3.      Changing Tendency of the Coastal and Marine Environment in the TGCER by External Impacts
The TGCER is surrounded by Guangxi province (People’s Republic of China) in the North the Red River Delta provinces (Haiduong, Thaibinh) in the West and the East Sea in the East and Southeast. Therefore, the natural environment and socio-economy of the TGCER are always affected by hydrographic, marine, weather factors and economic activities from the neighboring provinces and the East Sea. The main  impacts from external factors are listed and defined in the SEA study.
2.4.4.         Impact Tendency to the Coastal and Marine Environment Due to Global Climate Change
The coastal areas of Quangninh province and Haiphong province will be strongly influenced by climate change, particularly in case of rise of sea water level. These impacts include:
(i)     Losing a part of rural and urban lands at the coastal areas.
(ii)    Losing a large areas of agricultural, aquaculture lands.
(iii)   Influencing on coastal industrial parks and urban areas in 2 provinces: a  number of houses, business centers and industrial facilities may be inundated.
(iv)  Influencing on the transport networks; various roads, railways, bridges, harbors and airports at the coastal areas may be inundated.
(v)   Losing a large area of mangrove forests and ecosystems involved.
(vi)  Influencing on coral reefs, seaweed areas and ecosystems involved.
(vii)  A number of landscapes, tourism resources will be affected.
(viii)  Floods will happen more often with destruction that is more serious.
(ix)   Drought will be more severe, rainfall change resulting to seriously affecting fresh water resources. Consequently, it has influence on people, ecosystems, landscape and all economic sectors.
(x)    A large area of lands in the coast of islands and some small islands may no longer exist.
(xi)   Climate change may creates conditions for arising some new diseases for people and animals.
(xii)   Degradation of soil, water, landscape and infrastructural facilities.
As predicted above, if there are not high effective measures and solutions in management of the environment, the Master Plan implementation will cause a number of negative impacts on the coastal and marine environment. Therefore, to ensure economic growth targets, integrating with protection of the environment toward sustainable development, in the period 2020, Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), other ministries, People Committees of Quangninh and Haiphong and the owners of projects should implement general directions and basic solutions as follows:
(i)   Integrating development plan and development projects in the whole Economic Region into environmental protection, in general, and into coastal and marine environment management, in particular.
(ii)  Checking and adjusting some development projects in the development plan for the TGCER. The projects, those may cause major environmental and/ or social impacts and less economic profit, should be rejected.
(iii)  Carefully conducting and appraising Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for investment projects.
(iv) Applying appropriate scientific solutions in environmental management and protection of ecologically sensitive areas, especially protection of Halong Bay, Catba National Park, natural reserves and mangrove ecosystems in the region.
(v)   Establishing environmental monitoring system for the whole region.
(vi)   Applying technological solutions in coastal environmental pollution control and environmental risk management.
(vii)  Strengthening capacity in coastal environmental management and cooperation in environmental management.
(viii)  Promoting public involvement in project appraisal and environment management.
Some of the above directions are briefly described below.

4.1.  Integration of the Master Plan Into Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection
The most important factor in integrated coastal environmental management in the TGCER is to carefully consider environmental aspects in the Master Economic Development Plan as well as in each project in each area or ecological economic zone.
It is very necessary to carefully review the development plan for the TGCEB on the point of view of integrating economic development into environmental protection before approval by the GOV.
Based on the predicted environmental impacts (Chapter III in SEA Report) created by the plan implementation by the year 2020 (Chapter I) and according to the  orientation 
of integration of economic development into coastal environmental protection, strong points and weak points of this plan should be analyzed. Various items of the plan should be re-checked and adjusted.
With above mentioned assessments, this SEA report has preliminarily identified some "development actions" of the Master Plan, which should be adjusted to achieve the targets of sustainable development:
(i)   Review scale and area Developing Vandon economic zone with 551 km²;
(ii)  Reconsider and reject the project of Construction of Vandon Airport because of the reasons of  economy and environment;
(iii) Reject project of oil refinery in Haiha industrial park;
(iv) Review carefully each industrial park project, giving priority to fulfill the existing industrial parks. Do not set up industrial parks in fertile agricultural lands, inside or near natural conserve areas;
(v)  Do not permit the projects located inside Halong Bay, Catba National Park, Baitulong, Yentu Reserve and other natural reserves;

4.2.     Applying Scientific Measures to Integrated Environmental Management
In order to improve effect for the task of environmentally synthetic management in the TGCER, it is necessary to apply some following measures:
-    Setting up a database serving coastal and marine environmental management and reasonable use of natural resources. In there, beginning from collecting, handling and storing data /information about environmental compositions in the whole region aiming at building system of environmental maps for the whole belt.
-    Conducting environmental zoning, defining use ability for environmental zones in the TGCER.
-    Developing modeling in integrated coastal environmental management in the region;
-    Conducting integrated coastal management;
-    Applying proper measures for biological resource conservation and development to enhancing management for Catba National Park, Baitulong Natural park and Halong Bay World Heritage.
-     Conserving and developing mangrove forest ecosystem with specific measures of reasonably exploiting mangrove forest resources, reforesting, establishing mangrove forest conservation area, settling socio-economic problems in mangrove forest areas.
-     Sustainably conserving and developing coral, protecting ecosystems in coastal and river mouth areas.
-     Preventing impacts of climate change.

 4.3.      Establishing and Operating Environmental Monitoring System in the TGCER
Environmental monitoring system is to achieve 3 main objectives:
(i)     To evaluate the change in environmental quality, including physical, chemical, biological compositions in scale of the whole area with focuses on areas of highly dense industry, population and natural conservation zones.
(ii)    To assess actual state and forecast environmental pollution due to production activities, life activities through physico-chemical, biological parameters and environmental quality indexes.
(iii)   To collect, store data on the change in environmental compositions, serving to assess environmental impacts caused by projects, socio-economic development plan and environmental management; acting as scientific foundation in cooperation between provinces in the region with provinces/cities in the Red River Delta and international cooperation with China in environmental protection in the whole area.
Among them, environmental compositions need to be monitored are:
-       Water environment ( water chemistry, biology and hydrology)
-       Air quality (physico-chemistry and microclimate)
-       Soil pollution (physico-chemistry and microorganism)
-       Solid waste (amount and composition)
-       Biological diversity (numbers of species, density and area of habitats)
Frequency, parameters and monitoring sites of the monitoring systems are identified in
SEA report [5].
From the results of the prediction and evaluation of environmental impacts, in cases of lack of effective measures in environmental management it is possible to give some conclusions:
(i)    The level of coastal and marine environmental pollution would be risen during the Master Plan implementation. The increased polluted environment will affect fishery resources, tourism, natural reserves and public health. The main affected areas include bays of Halong, Baitulong, coastal areas of Campha, Damha, Haiha, Yenhung, Thuynguyen, Haian, Doson districts and Catba Natural Park.
(ii)    Biological resources will be reduced rapidly because of the extension of industrial parks, urban areas and tourism zones. The natural forest areas will be decreased, consequently, coastal and marine pollution will be increased; biodiversity will be decreased; coastal erosion will be a problem and impacts of climate change would be more significant.
These impacts are expected as significant and large-scale but they can be mitigated by proper management and technological measures.
(iii)  For minimizing the negative impacts on the coastal natural environment, it is necessary for MPI, provincial People’s Committees, relevant ministries, agencies and investors to reconsider and adjust various projects in the Master Plan, particularly the location, area of industrial parks, industrial sectors, ports, airport etc. Some planned projects should be rejected, if they may not high economic benefits but cause major environmental impacts.
(iv)    For mitigating the impacts (partly, not all), the SEA report outlines basic orientations on environment management and environmental technology which may serve as reference for MPI and relevant ministries and agencies.
1.    Decree N09/NQ/TW dated 9 February 2007 on Vietnam Sea Strategy toward 2020.
2.    Barker, A., (2000) SEA – a Tool for Integration within Coastal Planning, Journal of Coastal Research, 22 (4).
3.    Partidario M.R, V. Lobos, (2009), SEA of the National Strategy for Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Portugal, Journal of Coastal Research, Jan.
4.    UNNEP, (1995), Guideline for Integrated Management of Coastal and Marine Areas, Regional Sea Report N161, Split, Croatia.
5.    Le Trinh, Le Thac Can, (2008), Report on SEA for the Socio-Economic Master Plan for the Tonkin Gulf Coastal Economic Belt (TGCEB), prepared by VESDEC for SEMLA/MONRE.
6.    Ministry of Planning and Investment, (2008), Report on Socio-Economic Master Plan for the Tonkin Gulf Coastal Economic Belt (TGCEB).

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