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Marine Pollution Bulletin Vol. 37, Nos. 8±12, pp.

383±392, 1998
Ó 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved
Printed in Great Britain
PII: S0025-326X(99)00106-X 0025-326X/99 $ - see front matter

Rehabilitation of Mangrove Ecosystems:

An Overview
Faculty of Science (Gore Hill), University of Technology, Sydney, P.O. Box 123, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia

The concept and goals of mangrove ecosystem rehabili- is still considerable uncertainty about the current global
tation are considered and contrasted with ideas of eco- extent of mangrove areas. Spalding et al. (1997) estimate
system restoration. Three reasons for mangrove the current global extent of mangrove areas to be be-
rehabilitation: conservation and landscaping; multiple use tween 181,077 and 198,818 km2 and they discuss the
systems for high sustainable yield and protection of problems in arriving at these estimates. As an example
coastal areas, are then examined in detail. In each case, of the rate of disappearance of mangrove areas, it has
the underlying philosophy and limitations are presented. been estimated (Plathong, 1998) that the mangrove area
The practical problems of site selection for mangrove in Southern Thailand has declined by 48% between 1961
planting and techniques for regenerating mangroves are and 1996. That is from 3679 to 1905 km2 .
then considered. Some comments and data are then of- Farnsworth and Ellison (1997) discuss various con-
fered on mangrove ecosystem rehabilitation that is being servation issues concerning mangrove ecosystems and
carried out world-wide. Comment is made on the paucity they conclude that more information and education
of information. The practice and importance of monitor- needs to be disseminated at the local level. As human
ing and maintaining rehabilitated mangrove ecosystems is populations have risen, the shortage of productive land
then presented. Finally, there is a discussion on the future in underdeveloped countries has resulted in mangrove
management and research needs of mangrove ecosystem swamps being converted for agricultural purposes and
rehabilitation. Ó 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights the provision of ®sh and shrimp ponds for commercial
reserved production. Often the reclaimed land has proved un-
suitable and today it lies derelict. This degradation of
mangrove ecosystems has prompted a world-wide
Introduction movement to plant new areas of mangroves.
Another impetus behind the rehabilitation of man-
Mangroves, those predominantly tropical trees and grove ecosystems is the spectacular rise of environmen-
shrubs growing on sheltered coastlines, mud¯ats and tal consciousness over the past thirty years. The politics
river banks in many parts of the world, belong to a of the environmental movement has been felt world-
variety of plant families. The common characteristic wide but probably is driven by thinking in the developed
they all possess is tolerance to salt and brackish waters. countries, with accompanying legal and ®nancial sup-
There are some seventy known mangrove species. Only port for conservation. As an example, in the United
relatively few mangrove species have been used in States a number of state laws and local ordinances have
rehabilitation projects. been enacted for the protection of mangroves as a result
The amount of literature on mangroves and man- of the actions of the adversarial environmental move-
grove ecosystems is impressive. A number of recent ment.
texts give an overview of mangrove distribution, The pressure from environmental activists for more
mangrove research, mangrove ecology and mangrove conservation, sustainable use of ecosystems and the
management such as: IUCN (1983), Tomlinson (1986), protection of biodiversity has been unremitting and its
Hutchings and Saenger (1987), Robertson and Alongi in¯uence on governments around the world profound.
(1992), FAO (1994), Field (1995,1996), Spalding et al. The work of such activists is sometimes in con¯ict with
(1997). the desires of communities for greater freedom of choice
In recent years the pressures of increasing population, in the development of their own environment. The result
food production, industrial and urban development, and is an uneasiness between the doctrines of liberalism and
wood chipping have caused a reduction in the worldÕs Green politics. This unease is present in the debate
mangrove resource. It is dicult to quantify the global about the rationales for rehabilitating coastal ecosys-
rate of disappearance of mangrove forests. Indeed, there tems.

Marine Pollution Bulletin

The Concept of Rehabilitation of a Mangrove A prime task is to ascertain whether the mangrove
Ecosystem ecosystem needs to be rehabilitated or, indeed, if it can
be rehabilitated. A number of factors may in¯uence the
In order to consider the rehabilitation of mangrove similarity of the rehabilitated mangrove ecosystem with
ecosystems it is necessary to de®ne the term clearly. In any mangrove ecosystem that may have previously oc-
the present context, the editors agree that rehabilitation cupied the site. These include genetic changes in the
of an ecosystem be de®ned as the act of partially or, populations, natural variability of the mangrove eco-
more rarely, fully replacing structural or functional system, topographical and hydrological changes to the
characteristics of an ecosystem that have been dimin- site, local climatic changes, changes to neighbouring
ished or lost, or the substitution of alternative qualities ecosystems and the goals of the rehabilitation pro-
or characteristics than those originally present with gramme.
proviso that they have more social, economic or eco- Mangrove ecosystems are very dynamic and their
logical value than existed in the disturbed or degraded growth and decline often re¯ect the changing conditions
state. Likewise it has been agreed that restoration of an of the coastal environment in which they grow. Any
ecosystem is the act of bringing an ecosystem back into, attempt to restore the structure and function of a
as nearly as possible, its original condition. Restoration mangrove forest may prove elusive and impractical. This
is seen as a special case of rehabilitation. contention is supported by consideration of old growth
It is vital to understand that there is a fundamental forests. Such forests have peculiar ecological character-
di€erence in the way that ecologists and land use istics that disappear when the forests are logged and
managers use these concepts. Ecologists rarely discuss converted to younger states. In some parts of the United
rehabilitation but prefer the term ecological restora- States old-growth has become a criteria for the preser-
tion. There is a growing literature on the ideas of res- vation of the forests. Lugo (1997) argues that no single
toration ecology (National Research Council (US), stand of mangroves will have all the characteristics of
1992; Hobbs and Norton, 1996). Indeed, restoration old-growth and even when many of the characteristics
ecology is hailed as a new paradigm for biological are present it does not assure that the stand is old-
conservation (Turner, 1994). A recent de®nition of growth. Whether a mangrove stand reaches an old-
ecological restoration is that it is the process of re- growth stage depends on the dynamics of the coastal
pairing damage caused by humans to the diversity and system under which it grows. Sea-level changes, hurri-
dynamics of indigenous systems (Jackson et al., 1995). canes, frost, lightning, ®res and anthropogenic distur-
Higgs (1997) argues that apart from biological con- bances can all alter mangrove growth. It is concluded
siderations restoration ecology should include histori- that old-growth mangrove stands are an improbable
cal, social, cultural, political, aesthetic and moral state and that they can revert to younger stages.
aspects. However, few, if any, of the ideas of restora- There are three main criteria for judging the success of
tion ecology have had any impact in dealing with de- a mangrove rehabilitation programme. These are the
graded mangrove forests. On the other hand, land use e€ectiveness of the planting, which can be considered as
managers are concerned primarily with rehabilitation the closeness to which the new mangrove ecosystem
and are not much concerned with ecological restora- meets the original goals of the rehabilitation pro-
tion. This is because they require the ¯exibility to re- gramme, the rate of recruitment of ¯ora and fauna,
spond to immediate pressures and are wary of being which can be considered to be a measure of how quickly
obsessed with recapturing the past. the rehabilitated site recovers its integrity, and the e-
ciency of rehabilitation, which can be measured in terms
of the amount of labour, resources and material that
Goals of Rehabilitation
were used. In the case of mangrove ecosystem rehabili-
The need for rehabilitation of a mangrove ecosystem tation, the e€ectiveness and eciency are only some-
implies that the area under consideration has been al- times quanti®ed and the recruitment of ¯ora and fauna
tered or degraded in a way that con¯icts with de®ned rarely quanti®ed.
management or conservation objectives. Hence, reha-
bilitation is often the result of competition for land use,
Approaches to Mangrove Rehabilitation
though at times it can arise because of climatic impacts
that have destroyed the natural vegetation. It is essential There are three main reasons for mangrove ecosystem
that goals be de®ned as a ®rst step in the rehabilitation rehabilitation: conservation of a natural system and
process. These are normally linked to speci®c activities landscaping, sustainable production of natural resources
or combinations of activities. Goals determine the re- and protection of coastal areas. The degree to which the
habilitation process and help identify the elements which original ecosystem is rehabilitated may vary in each case.
must be included to provide the project with a clear
framework for operation and implementation. The es- Conservation and landscaping
tablishment of criteria for the success of the rehabilita- If a degraded mangrove ecosystem is being rehabili-
tion process must be a priority. tated for conservation or landscaping purposes, most

Volume 37/Numbers 8±12/August±December 1998

ecological processes must be maintained and as much Multiple use systems for high and sustainable yield
genetic diversity preserved as possible. However, there Mangrove ecosystems can be managed as multiple use
are few examples of mangroves being rehabilitated for systems for the high and sustainable yield of natural
the sole purpose of recreating a conservation or land- products. This implies careful management and pertur-
scaped area. Most examples occur in the United States bation of the ecosystem without loss of productivity.
(Snedaker and Biber, 1996) where mangrove rehabili- Rehabilitation only becomes necessary where the man-
tation is usually conducted in a legal context for eco- grove land has been degraded or a€ected by the utili-
logical reasons relating to ®sheries and wild life. In the zation of the land. Examples of the use of mangrove
United Arab Emirates there has been landscaping of ecosystems for sustainable yield of natural products are
arid coastal regions using Avicennia marina. There are timber and charcoal production (Chan, 1996) and
also examples of mangrove planting following damage shrimp production (Robertson and Phillips, 1995). Un-
from an oil spill that constitutes a€orestation for con- fortunately, many of the attempts to utilize mangrove
servation purposes (Duke, 1996). In mangrove rehabil- ecosystems in this way have ended in disaster as a result
itation of this type the subsequent level of practical of poor, short-term and greedy management practices.
management is often very low and quanti®cation of the However, this should not lead to the conclusion that
success of the rehabilitation rarely goes much beyond mangrove ecosystems cannot be managed to deliver high
assessment of the growth of the trees. yields of natural products on a sustainable basis.
The most common method of conserving mangrove Much of the opposition to using mangrove ecosys-
ecosystems is by the creation of protected areas in un- tems for the yield of natural products stems from the
disturbed sites. This is usually achieved through the es- belief that the survival of the ecosystem will be inevita-
tablishment of nature reserves, national parks, wildlife bly compromised. Even without any disturbance by
sanctuaries and internationally protected sites. people, mangroves are very dynamic systems and tend
The conservation of biological diversity is central to to decline and ¯ourish as a result of slight changes in the
dogma of the international conservation community. It natural environment. If a mangrove forest is disturbed
is perceived as pivotal to nature conservation as species by logging, it is unlikely that the forest will be regener-
extinction threatens not only the idealised Western view ated, either naturally or arti®cially, to something like its
of nature but depletes the genetic resources that are es- original state, as the mix of species, soil type, density of
sential for continued human prosperity (Davie and trees and numbers of animals will almost certainly
Hynes, 1997). However, it is interesting to note that the change. However, this does not mean that the modi®ed
relationship between changes in biodiversity and eco- ecosystem is not sustainable. It does mean that a dif-
system function is not easily quanti®ed in mangrove ferent ecosystem may emerge that will mean a high
ecosystems despite the extensive pool of information sustainable yield of natural products. This will help meet
(Twilley et al., 1996). In addition, the value of focusing the demands of people unable to maintain a living today
the purpose of nature conservation on biodiversity can and of the many more such people that will exist in the
be queried. Davie and Hynes (1997) question why bio- future.
diversity, a term that they see as jargon, should be Sustainable production of natural products seeks to
paramount in the thinking of conservationists and argue avoid environmental disasters in the short and long term
that conservation should be more inclusive of commu- and to encourage preservation of the natural system as
nity participation. They believe that nature conservation much as possible. In such endeavours involving a
practice should stand within a context of multiple land mangrove ecosystem, there are con¯icting goals to be
use. They argue that the conservation of ecological considered. These are the preservation of environmental
processes to maintain arboreal habitat, water and the integrity, economic eciency and equity for the local
fertility of soil may better integrate nature conservation community.
into other land uses. The approach to rehabilitation in such cases is es-
As examples of the ¯exibility of approach that can be sentially that of classical land management, with for-
built into conservation programmes, Davie and Hynes estry or animal husbandry of a specialized kind based on
(1997) cite two examples of mangrove conservation in the understanding of the ecology of the natural system.
Indonesia. In one area, Pantai Timur Mangrove Nature The necessary requirement is knowledge of the processes
Reserve, they argue that the integration of human use essential to developing and supporting the productivity
and opportunities for social and economic development of the system as a whole, rather than its parts. If there is
is appropriate. In the other, Bunaken National Park, to be intensive and selective use of mangrove forests
they argue, for sound ecological reasons, that people then specialist knowledge needs to be acquired for plants
and development activities should be excluded. They and animals in areas such as genetics, nutrition, stocking
also maintain that the accommodation and maintenance procedures, disease control and harvesting. In turn, this
of ecological processes should be an over-riding factor in knowledge needs to be supported by appropriate tech-
achieving sustainable conservation management: not nology and suitable legislation.
just a species focus. This approach confronts the rigidity This type of rehabilitation often has the goal of
of restoration ecology. restoring the productivity of the land without undue

Marine Pollution Bulletin

regard to how the restored ecosystem compares with the whether it is sandy, muddy or clayey, must be stable and
original one. The main objective is to increase primary non-eroding and of sucient depth to support planting.
productivity. This may involve activities such as reduc- Some amount of sedimentation on the site may help
ing environmental stress, adding material and changing stabilize the seedlings but excessive sedimentation may
site conditions. These can be expensive processes. sti¯e all growth. The rate of sedimentation is an
Some of the problems that can arise in these pro- important factor to measure.
grammes can be illustrated by reference to a project The topography of the site is critical in determining
concerned with community participation in mangrove the success of the rehabilitation project and some degree
forest management and rehabilitation in Southern of gentle slope is essential for proper drainage. The
Thailand (Wetlands International Asia-Paci®c, 1997). hydrology of the site is also of great importance as it
Problems include major di€erences between the spon- controls the quantity, quality and timing of water en-
sors of the project, the supervisors of the project, such as tering the site. It is vital that young plants are inundated
expatriate advisors and local academics and the local regularly by the tide but not to the extent that they are
villagers; lack of motivation among the local commu- drowned. This means selecting a relatively shallow re-
nity; lack of intra-and inter-agency collaboration: con- gion where the plants are exposed to the air for rea-
¯icts and inequity within the local community and sonable periods of time. Intertidal position can be of
impacts from major development projects not foreseen great importance for the survival of mangrove seedlings,
at the commencement of the programme. The identi®- as tide height is a critical factor in determining survival.
cation of such problems is a healthy sign that they can This is because seedlings are susceptible to physical
be overcome but there are important lessons to be learnt damage from ¯otsam and are subject to physiological
from such experiences. All too often such well-meaning stress if submerged for too long. In some planting pro-
projects do more for the sponsors than the recipients grammes, sites may be graded to adjust the depth of
with not unexpected resentment amongst the local tidal ¯ooding prior to planting but such preparation is
villagers. rare. If the area to be rehabilitated is subject to signi®-
cant wave action and erosion then barriers can be
Protection of coastal areas erected to protect the site while at the same time
The planting of mangroves along coastlines damaged allowing natural tidal inundation.
by cyclones and tidal bores occurs in countries such as In rehabilitating a site, it is important to consider the
Vietnam, China and Bangladesh. In Bangladesh (Saen- status of adjacent sites. The greatest chance of success of
ger and Siddiqi, 1993) 120,000 ha of mangroves have the rehabilitation programme is provided if adjacent
been planted since 1966. Nowhere else have mangroves sites are fully functional in an ecologically compatible
been planted on such a large scale. In this case the fashion. On the other hand, if there are highly degraded
mangroves were planted on newly accreted land. Two areas close to the rehabilitation site they may adversely
species of mangrove, Sonneratia apetala and Avicennia in¯uence the success of the rehabilitation programme. It
ocinalis, dominate the mangrove plantations, usually is also important that planting sites are sheltered, as
as monospeci®c stands. The planting of mangroves has young seedlings cannot withstand strong winds or ®erce
been highly successful in protecting and stabilizing currents.
coastal areas and in providing substantial timber pro- Mangroves are most luxuriant in areas of high rainfall
duction. Such arti®cially constructed mangrove forests or abundant fresh water supply. The requirement for
seem highly bene®cial but little attempt has been made fresh water may seem strange as mangroves are con-
to study their ecology. sidered to be halophytes but while some mangroves do
not seem to thrive in non-saline conditions others grow
well in only slightly brackish conditions. The tolerance
Speci®c Considerations When Rehabilitating to salinity varies widely between the mangrove species.
However, salinities in the hypersaline region pose
Mangrove Ecosystems
problems for all mangroves as it mirrors the condition
Site selection for mangrove planting of drought in terrestrial plants. No mangrove grows
It is dicult to generalize about the selection of a optimally under conditions of hypersalinity though
planting site for mangroves in a rehabilitation pro- many species can survive.
gramme as it will depend on local conditions and the Mangroves are generally shallow rooted and so the
mangrove species to be planted. The goals of the reha- physical and chemical properties of the top soil are
bilitation will in¯uence the site selection. An under- probably more important than those at greater depth.
standing of the cause of the initial degradation of the The extent to which growth of mangroves is controlled
chosen site is essential as this may require a remedy. by the presence or absence of nutrients is not at all clear
Generally, mangrove forests are best developed on (Clough, 1992).
low energy muddy shorelines, where there is an extensive The presence of seagrasses, naturally regenerating
suitable intertidal zone with an abundant supply of ®ne seedlings (wildlings) or scattered growth of grasses in-
grain sediment. Essential characteristics are that the soil, dicate that the site may be ®t for a€orestation. Another

Volume 37/Numbers 8±12/August±December 1998

factor that needs to be taken into account is whether the In some parts of the world monkeys can also be a
mangrove species to be planted is shade tolerant or not. problem. It is therefore important to carry out some
This will determine the canopy structure of the site se- preliminary studies of the proposed site to see if pre-
lected. Generally, very little preparation of the planting datory animals pose a signi®cant risk. If it does, special
site is necessary but the site must be cleared of all debris precautions, such as encasing the seedlings in protective
such as coconut or banana trunks, leaves, bamboo and structures, may need to be taken when planting.
tree branches. A ®nal consideration, but one that is essential for
However, mangrove rehabilitation is sometimes un- nearly all mangrove rehabilitation projects, is the in-
dertaken on extremely degraded sites that are the result volvement and support of the local community. The
of shrimp farming, mining or timber harvesting or the pressure of the local population will determine the
site may be a newly accreted mud¯at. In such cases, the structure and function of the mangrove ecosystem that
sites may be highly saline, extremely low in oxygen and supports them. The form of the rehabilitated site will
virtually devoid of essential chemical elements such as largely depend on the activities of the local population.
nitrogen and phosphorus. Also the soil conditions may It must be accepted that people have the responsibility
¯uctuate wildly, vegetation cover may be negligible and to say what sort of landscape they want to live in, now
the exposure to solar radiation may be intense. and in the future (Davie and Hynes, 1997). In many
If the degraded site is a disused shrimp pond there instances the outcome of the rehabilitation programme
may be accelerated soil erosion due to increased surface will be determined directly by interaction with the local
run-o€, a decrease in soil water storage capacity, a re- people and not by a desire for ecological restoration.
duction in the biodiversity of soil fauna, a depletion of
soil organic matter, the presence of acid sulphate soils Planting mangroves
and the addition of toxic chemicals. It remains to be Two approaches can be used in the planting of
established if disused shrimp ponds can be rehabilitated degraded mangrove areas: natural regeneration and
(Stevenson, 1997). arti®cial regeneration.
If the site is on drier marginal land, such as aban-
doned paddy ®elds, then some detailed land preparation Natural regeneration
may be required. It is likely such land will be highly This method uses naturally occurring propagules or
acidic due to the oxidation of iron sulphides in the soil seeds of mangroves as the source for regeneration. The
and that there may be toxic levels of aluminium in the mix of species regenerated is regulated by the species
soil. In order to remove the toxic chemicals and to re- that occur locally. There are several advantages in nat-
store the natural soil condition, it is necessary to ensure ural regeneration but the prime one is that the resulting
that the soil is well ¯ushed by the incoming tides and by forest is likely to be more akin to the original mangrove
fresh water from rain run-o€. vegetation, unless there has been severe imposed selec-
Such environmental conditions provide extremely tion of available propagules. Other advantages of nat-
dicult habitats and there are very few ecological ural regeneration are that it is cheap to establish, less
studies that can provide any assistance on how to ap- labour is required, less soil disturbance results and the
proach planting mangroves on such sites or how to en- seedlings establish more vigorously. If this technique is
sure the reappearance of fauna. employed it is essential that there is an adequate supply
If the planting site is an area where mangroves have of seeds or propagules and this is usually achieved by
been clear felled, usually for timber and charcoal pro- ensuring that a number of seed-bearing trees are present
duction, then it may be infested by the Acrostichum fern. in the area. It has been advocated that, for Rhizophora
In such cases it is important to clear the site extensively stands, the number of seed-bearing trees should be
as the presence of Acrostichum will inhibit the estab- about 12 trees per hectare (FAO, 1994). Apart from a
lishment of the required tree species. This procedure has lack of seeds and propagules, poor natural regeneration
proved to be dicult and expensive in Malaysia and may be due to weed competition, excessive amounts of
Indonesia. debris, poor soil conditions or disturbed hydrodynamics
In Thailand, infestations by barnacles retarded the of the site.
growth of seedlings planted on newly accreted mud¯ats Natural regeneration of mangroves should be the ®rst
and death often resulted. Also, in degraded mangrove choice of any rehabilitation programme, unless there is
forests, weed species such as Finlaysonia maritima and irrefutable evidence that it will be unsuccessful.
Acanthus ilicifolius sti¯ed the growth of planted seed-
lings and in abandoned shrimp farms and mining areas Arti®cial regeneration
attacks by crabs caused seedling mortality of some 10% Arti®cial regeneration involves planting of seeds,
(JAM, 1997). propagules or seedlings in areas where there is insu-
Recent studies (Smith, 1992) have shown that the cient natural regeneration. One technique is to trans-
consumption of mangrove propagules by crabs may plant seedlings (wildings) to a new location. Another
greatly a€ect mangrove regeneration and in¯uence the technique is to collect ripe seeds or propagules and to
distribution of certain species across the intertidal zone. plant them directly into the site. An alternative is to

Marine Pollution Bulletin

raise seedlings, or small trees, under nursery conditions Of the ninety or so countries around the world that
and then to transplant them to the ®eld. It is clearly contain mangrove vegetation only some twenty have
cheaper to collect seeds and propagules and to plant attempted any form of mangrove replanting. Only nine
them directly but there are conditions where it may be of these twenty countries have planted more than 10
dicult to achieve regeneration by this method, such as km2 since 1970. Bangladesh, Indonesia, The Philippines
a paucity of available propagules. Such adverse condi- and Vietnam stand out as the countries that have put
tions may warrant the use of nursery raised seedlings. It most e€ort into the rehabilitation of mangrove ecosys-
is not, however, normally the method of choice. tems. In the case of Bangladesh, most of the planting has
There are advantages to arti®cial regeneration: the been in the form of a€orestation on newly accreted land.
species composition and the distribution of seedlings can In Indonesia and The Philippines, the plantings have
be controlled; genetically improved stock can be intro- been on degraded areas caused by clear felling, shrimp
duced; dicult or pest-infested sites can be more easily ponds and population pressure. In Vietnam, the causes
restored. are similar but have been compounded by the devas-
The selection of mangroves to be planted is generally tating e€ects of the recent wars.
determined by three factors in decreasing order of im- Apart from national governments, numerous inter-
portance: the mangrove species occurring naturally in national organizations have, or are supporting, man-
the locality of the a€orestation site; the availability of grove replanting programmes. Included in this list are
seeds or propagules; and the objective of the planting the European Union, the World Bank, the Asian De-
programme. The zone in which the mangroves should velopment Bank, the World Wide Fund for Nature
be planted, such as seaward, middle or landward, or (WWF), the International Union for the Conservation
riverine upstream or down-stream, can be determined of Nature (IUCN), the Food and Agricultural Organi-
by observation of the common mangrove species oc- zation (FAO), UNESCO, UNEP, UNEP, Wetlands
curring naturally in local sites. Similar observations will International, the International Tropical Timber Orga-
determine the soil type required and the best tidal in- nization (ITTO), the Save the Children fund and the
undation regime. It is important that individual species Australian Centre for International Agricultural Re-
should be planted within their speci®c tidal and ¯ood- search (ACIAR). This list is no doubt very incomplete
ing range. In practice, it is often ecacious to plant but it re¯ects personal knowledge of their activities.
initially small patches of mixed mangrove species in soil In an attempt to get an overview of the work being
that has been specially prepared. In this way the af- undertaken internationally in the sphere of mangrove
forestation process can be given the best chance of rehabilitation, several of these organizations were ap-
success. It is interesting to note that the number of proached for information and, if possible, copies of
species that have been planted in rehabilitation projects relevant reports so that some evaluation of the scale and
represents only about thirty percent of the total number success of such programmes could be undertaken. The
of mangrove species that are known to exist. Details of response was almost complete silence. One of the chal-
planting procedures in various rehabilitation and af- lenges is to gauge how successful rehabilitation projects
forestation projects around the world and a summary have been and what lessons have been learnt from fail-
of the pests that can be encountered are given in Field ures. It is clearly impossible to carry out such a critical
(1996). review without access to the myriad of reports that must
be hidden in the archives of the many sponsoring
agencies. One is left with the impression that there are
World-Wide Mangrove Ecosystem Rehabilita- several reasons for this dearth of information. They in-
clude bureaucratic sloth, proprietary reluctance to re-
tion Activities
veal important ®ndings, inadequate dissemination
The number of mangrove rehabilitation programmes mechanisms and a myopic view of the general impor-
world-wide is extensive. Table 1 gives a summary of the tance of rehabilitation programmes.
countries that have undertaken some form of mangrove The result is that there are many mangrove rehabili-
rehabilitation, the main mangrove species utilized, the tation programmes being carried out without any ref-
goals of the projects, the extent of the mangrove area erence to lessons that might be learnt from other similar
rehabilitated and the area of mangrove naturally oc- programmes. One must suspect a great duplication of
curring. Most of the information is taken from Field e€ort. In addition there is probably very little external
(1996) and Spalding et al. (1997). This information is by critical analysis of the worth of many of the projects and
necessity not exhaustive as such information is not few of the results are ever published in refereed journals.
readily available. The data on the area of mangroves There is a real need for an archival system to be estab-
planted are mainly based on a number of local reports lished where reports on mangrove rehabilitation can be
and personal knowledge. Such ®gures should be taken lodged and accessed easily by interested people. The
as being only indicative. It would be necessary to have Internet may o€er a partial solution. However, a more
much more re®ned data if the scale of rehabilitation organized system needs to established by one of the in-
activities is to be fully analysed. ternational agencies, in concert with other agencies, as it

General information on mangrove rehabilitation projects.

Country Main mangrove species planted Aim(s) of planting programme Area of mangrove Area of natural
planted (km2 ) mangrove (km2 )

Australia Avicennia marina and Aegiceras corniculatum Enhancement of natural regeneration <1 9695
Bangladesh Sonneratia apetala, Avicennia ocinalis and Heritiera fomes Sustained yield of forest products; coastal protection >1200 5767
Benin Rhizophora racemosa and Rhizophora mangle Rehabilitation of degraded areas and introduction in new <0.1 69
Volume 37/Numbers 8±12/August±December 1998

China Kandelia candel Coastal protection <0.1 366
Colombia R. mangle Rehabilitation of a national park <0.1 3659
Costa Rica Rhizophora harrisonii and R. mangle Timber production ± 370
Cuba R. mangle, Avicennia germinans, Laguncularia racemosa and Barriers to erosion, rehabilitation of degraded areas and timber >0.5 7848
Conocarpus erectus
India A. marina, A. ocinalis, Sonneratia caseolaris, Rhizophora Rehabilitation of degraded areas >100 6700
mucronata, and Rhizophora apiculata
Indonesia Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, R. apiculata, Rhizophora stylosa, and Rehabilitation of degraded areas; timber production >400 45,421
R. mucronata
Malaysia R. mucronata and R. apiculata Timber and charcoal production >50 6424
Myanmar A. ocinalis, S. apetala, R. mucronata, R. apiculata, K. candel, Rehabilitation of degraded areas, timber production and >20 3444
Ceriops decandra, and B. gymnorrhiza ®rewood production
Pakistan A. marina, Ceriops tagal, R. mucronata, R. apiculata, and Rehabilitation of degraded areas and timber production >20 1683
A. corniculatum
Panama R. mangle Rehabilitation after an oil spill <0.2 1814
Philippines R. apiculata, R. mucronata, R.stylosa, C. tagal and Rehabilitation of degraded areas >440 1607
Nypa fruticans
Sierra Leone R. racemosa and R. mangle Rehabilitation of degraded areas <0.1 1695
Sri Lanka R. apiculata and R. mucronata Protection of lagoons and estuaries <0.1 80
Thailand R. mucronata, and R. apiculata Timber and charcoal production; rehabilitation >110 2641
USA R. mangle, A. germinans, L. racemosa and C. erectus Rehabilitation of natural areas <0.4 1990
Vietnam R. mucronata, R. apiculata, R. stylosa, K. candel, Avicennia alba, Rehabilitation of degraded areas, sea dike protection and >530 2525
C. decandra, S. caseolaris and Nypa fruticans mixed shrimp farming-mangrove areas
U.A.E A. marina Landscaping <0.1 30
After 1970.

Marine Pollution Bulletin

would require considerable resources to establish and years or that are currently underway (JAM, 1994; Field,
maintain it. Experience dictates that such co-operation 1996). In the same period, there has been an explosion of
will remain elusive. scienti®c papers on mangrove biology and ecology.
Mangrove ecologists tend to be concerned primarily
with the intrinsic nature of their research rather than in
Monitoring and Maintenance of Rehabilitated
initiating the use of their ®ndings in the management of
Mangrove Ecosystems mangrove rehabilitation projects. There is a paucity of
Once a mangrove rehabilitation programme has been ecological studies on heavily degraded mangrove eco-
completed, it is essential to monitor progress and to systems and little attempt to extrapolate ecological
maintain the site. A summary of monitoring and ®ndings from normally functioning mangrove ecosys-
maintenance activities is given in Table 2. These activi- tems to those existing under stressed conditions. Un-
ties are similar to those that would be normally under- derwood (1995) points out that ecologists should not be
taken in any forestry programme. Three to ®ve years is too eager to con®ne their e€orts solely to the provision
often speci®ed as the monitoring period in small-scale of sound ecological advice but should be prepared to
rehabilitation programmes but more realistically ten have more say in the way the advice and data are used.
years should be the monitoring period. For large a€or- Likewise, in a comprehensive review of studies on
estation projects up to 30 yr may be necessary. mangroves in China, Li and Lee (1997) recommend that
If rehabilitated mangrove ecosystems are to be con- more attention should be paid to management issues as
trasted with naturally occurring ones then comparative they represent more critical areas of concern than purely
measurements of productivity, movement of organic ecological processes.
matter and organization of the food chain will have to There is a need for applied ecological research aimed
be carried out as well. If one is interested in monitoring at testing the decisions made when rehabilitating man-
the restoration of a whole mangrove ecosystem then one groves. This seldom happens. Indeed, much mangrove
would have to measure (Hobbs and Norton, 1996) research is done in isolation from the needs of the
the composition of species present, the structure of the managers of the rehabilitation projects. There is an ur-
plants and soil, the heterogeneity of the system, the gent need to study the failures of mangrove ecosystem
performance of basic ecological processes and the dy- management. Likewise, there is a need to do research
namics and resilience of the system. As yet, such mea- that will enhance mangrove ecosystem rehabilitation.
surements have not been attempted in rehabilitated There is a lack of innovative research programmes that
mangrove ecosystems. focus on the problems of mangrove ecosystem rehabil-
itation and, for that matter, on the intrinsic structure
and function of mangrove ecosystems. An exception to
this is the use of molecular markers in assessing poly-
There are many mangrove rehabilitation projects with morphism in mangrove species (Lakshmi et al., 1997).
various aims that have been undertaken in the last few Such studies will provide much needed information

Monitoring and maintenance of mangrove rehabilitation projects.

Action Comment

Take regular aerial photographs of the site E€ective way of getting an over view
Monitor mangrove species that develop Checks correctness of original provenance of propagules and seeds.
Mis-identi®cation of seeds and propagules can lead to failure
Monitor growth as a function of time Common measurements are: density of seedlings or trees (no. of trees
haÿ1 ), diameter at breast height (DBH) (cm), height (m) and volume (m3
haÿ1 ). The annual increments of these parameters should be determined
Monitor growth characteristics Determinations could include: stem structure, node production,
phenology, fruiting and resistance to pests
Record level of failure of seedlings Provide a scienti®c reason for lack of success
Record impact of pests and diseases Note nature of pests and diseases and steps taken to eradicate the problem
Record level of rubbish accumulation Note source of rubbish and steps taken to minimize the problem
Record impact of grazing, cutting, ®sh ponds and ®shing Note source of such external pressures and the steps taken to minimize the
problems, e.g.: fencing; law enforcement
Adjust density of seedlings and saplings to an optimum level The degree of thinning, replanting or natural regeneration should be noted
in detail. Growth should be monitored
Estimate cost of rehabilitation project The estimation of cost should include all aspects of the undertaking
including the purchase of land and any legal costs
Monitor impact of any harvesting This should be part of any long-term record of a rehabilitation project
Assess characteristics of a rehabilitated mangrove ecosystem This involves detailed measurements of the fauna, ¯ora and physical
environment of the new mangrove ecosystem and comparison with nearby
similar undisturbed mangrove ecosystems
Measure the success of the rehabilitation project against the original This is rarely done but is an essential outcome
criteria that were established

Volume 37/Numbers 8±12/August±December 1998

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Hobbs, R. J. and Norton, D. A. (1996) Towards a conceptual
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rehabilitation projects which currently rely on long 110.
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of Queensland Press, Brisbane, Australia, p. 388.
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body of knowledge on the silviculture of many di€erent Davie. International Union for Conservation of Nature and
Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland, p. 88.
species of mangrove and this should be built upon, not Jackson, L. L., Lukhine, N., Hillyard. D. (1995) Ecological restora-
reworked. There is also a growing literature on the en- tion: a de®nition and comments. Restoration Ecology 3(2), 71±75.
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