Human Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 177–195

Local Management of Mangrove Forests in the Philippines: Successful Conservation or Efficient Resource Exploitation?

  • Bradley B. Walters

DOI: 10.1023/B:HUEC.0000019762.36361.48

Cite this article as:
Walters, B.B. Human Ecology (2004) 32: 177. doi:10.1023/B:HUEC.0000019762.36361.48


Recent environmental “narratives” suggest that local people are effective stewards of forest resources. Local restoration and management of mangrove forests, in particular, are now widely advocated as a solution to achieve both economic and environmental conservation goals. This paper presents findings from a study of 2 coastal sites in the Philippines that are renowned and often showcased as success stories in community-based, mangrove reforestation and management. These cases are especially intriguing because local tree planting and management emerged in both areas long before governments and nongovernment organizations began to promote such activities. These management systems are a successful economic innovation in that planted mangroves protect homes and fish pond dykes from wave and wind damage, and the production of high-value construction wood is dramatically enhanced through intensive plantation management. Mangrove plantations are an efficient alternative to harvesting from unplanted, natural mangroves and their spread may reduce harvesting pressures on existing forests. However, mangrove plantations are structurally and compositionaly very different from unplanted forests, a finding of particular concern given that such plantations are increasingly encroaching into and replacing natural forests. Furthermore, planted forests are not typically viewed by planters in terms of their environmental conservation values and are frequently cut and cleared to make space for alternative uses, especially fish farming and residential settlement. The suggestion that these local mangrove management systems are successful for conservation thus needs to be qualified.

community-based conservationindigenous forest managementenvironmental narrativesmangrovesPhilippines

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bradley B. Walters
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyMount Allison UniversitySackvilleCanada