THE mangroves in Cai Gio District hold a deep, dark secret. They are the only ones to have recovered from chemical warfare.
Formed in the large delta at the estuaries of three rivers – Dong Nai, Sai Gon and Vam Co – the Can Gio mangroves were almost completely destroyed during the Vietnam War by more than 4.5 million litres of the herbicide known as Agent Orange used mostly by the United States military.
More than half of the trees were destroyed. What was once a vast green forest turned into a desolate zone when the war ended.
Today, the Can Gio mangrove forest accounts for 97% of the total forest area of Ho Chi Minh City, a bustling metropolis with nine million people. The mangrove forest, just more than 50km away from the hustle and bustle of Vietnam’s largest city, not only serves as a shield against storms but also protects the capital against coastal erosion.