Are mangroves worth replanting? The direct economic benefits of a community-based reforestation project
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M. E.M. Walton, G. P.B. S. Tan, J. H. Primavera, G. Edward-Jones and L. Le Vay


Competition for coastal land use and overexploitation (coastal development) have reduced or degraded mangrove coverage throughout much of their distribution, especially in South-east Asia. Timber production (deforestation) was the initial motivation for early mangrove reforestation projects. More recently, benefits from protection against erosion and extreme weather events and direct improvements in livelihoods and food security are perceived as justifications for such restoration efforts. This study examines the socioeconomic impacts of a community-led reforestation project in the Philippines through a survey of the local fishers. Revenues from mangrove fisheries, tourism and timber result in an annual benefit to the community of US$ 315 ha−1 yr−1. This figure is likely to be considerably more if the contribution of the mangrove to the coastal catch of mangrove-associated species is included. This estimate only includes direct benefits to the community from mangroves, and not intangible benefits such as coastal protection, which paradoxically is perceived by the community as one of the most important functions. More than 90% of all fishers, regardless of where they fished, thought the mangrove provided protection from storms and typhoons and acted as a nursery site and should be protected. Those fishing only in the mangrove perceived more benefits from the mangrove and were prepared to pay more to protect it than those fishing outside. This study concludes that replanting mangroves can have a significant economic impact on the lives of coastal communities. Acknowledgement of the value of replanted mangroves compared with other coastal activities and the benefits they bring to the more economically-vulnerable coastal dwellers should support better informed policy and decision-making with regard to coastal habitat restoration.

Main Results and Conclusions:
  • This study was carried out in Buswang, situated at the mouth of the Aklan Rive, in the Aklan province and focused on the economic benefits of a 75.5 ha replanted mangrove plot. The following is a list composed of economic data collected from the study:
    • “The total landings from the 75.5 ha mangrove forest represent a harvested biomass of 294 kg ha−1 yr−1, a net value of US$ 213 ha−1 yr−1 and an annual income for these districts of US$ 16 057”(337).
    • “In 2004, c. 17 000 people visited the 75.5 ha Buswang Ecopark, each paying US$ 0.18, generating a total income of US$ 3059 or US$ 41 ha−1 yr−1”(339).
    • “Inclusion of all species caught within the replanted mangrove increases the valuation to US$ 213 ha−1 yr−1, of which landings of mud crabs and penaeid prawns contributed 50%”(340). (Deforestation).
    • “The survey suggests a total value of US$ 564–2316 ha−1 is entering the local community from the mangrove each year”(340).
    • “This study suggests that fish production related to replanted mangrove was 578–2568 kg ha−1 yr−1 (US$ 463–2215 ha−1 yr−1), which can equal that of brackish-water aquaculture ponds”(341).
    • Total income from sustainably harvested timber from replanted mangroves was valued at US$ 60 ha-1 yr-1.
  • Ecosystem services provided by mangroves in the area were well known: “Most fishers (95% on average) thought that the mangrove acted as a barrier against typhoons and storms and similar numbers thought that mangrove forests act as nurseries for juvenile fish and crustaceans and molluscs (Table 2)” (337).
  • Not only are the mangroves important to the community on a day to day basis, but also in times of crisis: “Estimations of frequency for gleaning often included comments such as ‘when we have no food’ or ‘when I have no work’ suggested the mangrove was used as an important emergency food store for much of the population”(340).



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