Management of mangroves
Women collecting fuelwood in a mangrove forest in Mozambique. ©Dimitry B.Mangroves can be managed for a combination of various objectives. Key services and products provided by mangroves include: wood products (e.g. timber, charcoal, fuelwood, etc.); non-wood resources (e.g. fruits, wildlife, capture fishery, mariculture, etc.); coastal protection; and eco-tourism.
Despite being one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, with huge benefits in terms of climate change mitigation, adaption and enhanced resilience, mangroves continue to be degraded and lost. A part of the problem is the lack of consideration given to the social aspects of mangrove management, including governance, tenure and land use planning. In many countries, there is also ambiguity and lack of clarity on jurisdiction and mandate over mangrove resources among multiple ministries and departments (e.g. forestry, fisheries and environment), which results in mangroves being relegated to the periphery of natural resources management, with few practices or policies devised to specifically address their unique needs (Rotich et al., 2016).
It is important to ensure that sustainable mangrove management is included in integrated planning of coastal zones. The primary aim of a mangrove management strategy should be to maintain the health of the remaining mangrove ecosystems and to reduce the rate of mangrove loss. Prevention of mangrove loss and degradation through sustainable management and restoration would provide huge environmental, social and economic benefits through carbon sequestration and avoided emissions, the addition of commercial fisheries species in mangrove waters, and protection of hundreds of thousands of people from coastal disasters. In most cases, these benefits far outweigh the relatively short-term gains from agriculture or infrastructure development which tend to flow to a small number people.
Another key to successful mangrove conservation and management is the participation of local communities. It is important to ensure that the local people are involved in conducting mangrove restoration and protection activities and that they benefit from the sustainable utilization of mangrove resources. Support should be provided to help organize local communities, strengthen their capacity to implement, monitor and report on mangrove management activities, and build and sustain organizational structures for natural resource management.