Mangrove forest management
Given the many types of products and services which might be obtained from forest and aquatic resources in mangroves, a multidisciplinary approach towards their management is essential. The following principles can be used as a guide when preparing management plans for mangroves.
- Wood, non-wood and aquatic resources are managed in an integrated way and used to meet local, regional or national needs.
Managing natural resources to meet peoples' needs implies a knowledge of what people want. An assessment of needs and public participation is an integral part of the planning process. The importance of a resource supply is not only determined by its physical or biological characteristics but also by the priority that society places on its use. This prioritization among the management objectives should be clearly reflected in the management plan's activities.
- Plans must be objective oriented.
When the problems or issues are understood, a set of objectives should be identified to address key issues. Objectives should be quantifiable targets that serve to focus management efforts and measure performance.
- Plans must try to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people in the long run.
Minority interests must be weighed in relation to the general well-being of larger communities. In practice it is impossible to achieve complete or unanimous support for all the management objectives. Compromises between local level and national level interests are necessary.
- The ecological carrying capacity should never be exceeded and resource sustainability should be given high priority.
This is a non-negotiable requirement, if sustainable production is to be achieved. This requirement should be given high priority in the management planning agenda and for example a code of conduct for responsible harvesting of given products (forest-based or aquatic) should be elaborated.
- The need for the conservation of biological diversity and wildlife should be recognized.
This should be incorporated into the plan in relation to the scale of the management area. For small and/or highly fragmented areas, it is impractical to reserve large tracts of pristine vegetation for conservation purposes. Instead, the establishment of well-placed control plots may be more feasible.
- Planning is an on-going dynamic process.
Planning must be flexible enough to accommodate shifts in demand/supplies and priorities. Because society's values change over time, planning is an on-going dynamic process.
- The plan must provide for improvements in data collection to reduce areas of uncertainty associated with an incomplete or weak information base.
The ultimate objective may be achieved in phases, taking into account an improved information base over time and applying a conservative approach where the uncertainty is perceived to be great.
- The decision-making process must be visible and equitable.
Involving the public in the decision-making process is necessary to promote local support and acceptance for integrated forest management planning. It is the duty of the forest service to explain to the public the implications of various decisions. Customary rights should be respected where possible. Decision-making should not marginalize the traditional incomes of local people nor their access to forest products without offering practical and acceptable alternatives.
- Planning functions and responsibilities.
The responsibility for planning functions should be clearly spelt out at different levels, from the local forest management unit level towards the national level.
FAO. 1994. Mangrove forest management guidelines. FAO Forestry Paper No. 117. Rome.