The pressing challenges of mangrove rehabilitation: pond reversion and coastal protection
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The 2004 Indonesia tsunami as well as the increasing storm frequency and intensity associated with climate change–sea-level rise have highlighted the coastal protection function, among the many goods and services that mangrove forests provide. This wider awareness of mangroves has increased national and international rehabilitation efforts, given only 15 million ha remaining and yearly rates of 1–3% loss. Rehabilitation programs employ two strategies: seafront planting and pond reversion. Seafront planting is necessary because coastal populations will not move to safer ground by choice, or cannot move due to poverty, and is also preferred because the sites are open access with no tenurial conflicts. However, former sites of fringing mangroves are difficult to rehabilitate as their lower intertidal–subtidal levels are not optimal for mangroves (due to frequent inundation and wave action). Planting in tidal flats and seagrass beds is also ecologically misguided. This chapter evaluates the relevant mainstream and gray literature (on site and species selection, propagule sources, nursery protocols, outplanting techniques, biophysical/anthropogenic threats, and novel interventions, e.g., integrated approaches using barriers) to improve the low survival rates of seafront planting. However, this strategy should not preclude the long-term relocation of coastal communities to safer ground and the politically difficult option of pond reversion. Given thousands of hectares of underutilized and abandoned brackish water ponds in Southeast Asia, this option holds greater potential for rehabilitation of wide areas of mangroves and greater species diversity. It is ecologically easier as it merely requires restoring hydrology (by breaking pond dikes); mangrove recruitment and succession naturally follow (if propagule sources are present) in these ponds located at mid-upper intertidal levels where mangroves naturally occur. The Philippines, with its long history of mangrove–pond conversion and problematic enforcement of laws that mandate mangrove reversion of idle ponds, is examined as a case study. The chapter assesses the Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA) system by which vast expanses of mangroves were transferred from the public domain (government-leased ponds) to private ownership and recommends ways to improve the FLA system.
Primavera, J. H., Rollon, R. N., & Samson, M. S. (2011). The pressing challenges of mangrove rehabilitation: pond reversion and coastal protection. In E. Wolanski & D. McLusky (Eds.), Treatise on Estuarine and Coastal Science (pp. 217-244). Waltham: Academic Press.