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    • Article

      Ecological role and services of tropical mangrove ecosystems: a reassessment 

      Aim

      To reassess the capacity of mangroves for ecosystem services in the light of recent data.

      Location

      Global mangrove ecosystems.

      Methods

      We review four long-standing roles of mangroves: (1) carbon dynamics – export or sink; (2) nursery role; (3) shoreline protection; (4) land-building capacity. The origins of pertinent hypotheses, current understanding and gaps in our knowledge are highlighted with reference to biogeographic, geographic and socio-economic influences.

      Results

      The role of mangroves as C sinks needs to be evaluated for a wide range of biogeographic regions and forest conditions. Mangrove C assimilation may be under-estimated because of flawed methodology and scanty data on key components of C dynamics. Peri-urban mangroves may be manipulated to provide local offsets for C emission. The nursery function of mangroves is not ubiquitous but varies with spatio-temporal accessibility. Connectivity and complementarity of mangroves and adjacent habitats enhance their nursery function through trophic relay and ontogenetic migrations. The effectiveness of mangroves for coastal protection depends on factors at landscape/geomorphic to community scales and local/species scales. Shifts in species due to climate change, forest degradation and loss of habitat connectivity may reduce the protective capacity of mangroves. Early views of mangroves as land builders (especially lateral expansion) were questionable. Evidence now indicates that mangroves, once established, directly influence vertical land development by enhancing sedimentation and/or by direct organic contributions to soil volume (peat formation) in some settings.

      Main conclusions

      Knowledge of thresholds, spatio-temporal scaling and variability due to geographic, biogeographic and socio-economic settings will improve the management of mangrove ecosystem services. Many drivers respond to global trends in climate change and local changes such as urbanization. While mangroves have traditionally been managed for subsistence, future governance models must involve partnerships between local custodians of mangroves and offsite beneficiaries of the services.
    • Article

      Ethnobiology, socio-economics and management of mangrove forests: A review 

      There is growing research interest in the ethnobiology, socio-economics and management of mangrove forests. Coastal residents who use mangroves and their resources may have considerable botanical and ecological knowledgeable about these forests. A wide variety of forest products are harvested in mangroves, especially wood for fuel and construction, tannins and medicines. Although there are exceptions, mangrove forest products are typically harvested in a small-scale and selective manner, with harvesting efforts and impacts concentrated in stands that are closer to settlements and easiest to access (by land or by sea). Mangroves support diverse, local fisheries, and also provide critical nursery habitat and marine productivity which support wider commercial fisheries. These forests also provide valuable ecosystem services that benefit coastal communities, including coastal land stabilization and storm protection. The overlapping of marine and terrestrial resources in mangroves creates tenure ambiguities that complicate management and may induce conflict between competing interests. Mangroves have been cut and cleared extensively to make way for brackish water aquaculture and infrastructure development. More attention is now given to managing remaining forests sustainably and to restoring those degraded from past use. Recent advances in remotely sensed, geo-spatial monitoring provide opportunities for researchers and planners to better understand and improve the management of these unique forested wetlands.