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Defining Eco-Morphodynamic Requirements for Rehabilitating Eroding Mangrove-Mud Coasts

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We present an eco-morphodynamic analysis on causes of erosion along degraded mangrove-mud coasts, and the causes of failure to rehabilitate these coasts. Our analyses are based on studies in Thailand, British Guyana and Suriname, and observations in Indonesia, the Philippines and southern China, where degradation is directly attributed to the erection of fish/shrimp ponds too close to the waterline. Ecological determinants of low success rates of rehabilitation efforts are well explained in literature, and are briefly summarized in this paper. Our analyses show that ongoing erosion of degraded mangrove-mud coasts are also the result of a disturbed balance in fine sediment dynamics, and the subsequent change in mudflat morphology. The initial drivers for this degradation are a decrease in on-shore sediment flux and a local increase in wave height near the fish/shrimp ponds. A positive feed-back loop is initiated by which stable, convex-up cross sectional profiles of mud flats evolve towards unstable, concave-up profiles. This loop is induced by an unfavorable feedback between tide-induced sedimentation and wave-induced erosion, deteriorating habitat conditions for mangrove recruitment. Based on the current analysis, we present ingredients for a more sustainable use of mangrove-mud coastal systems, and a more successful rehabilitation of eroding mangrove-mud coasts.

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We thank the “Programme Strategic Alliances between the People’s Republic of China and the Netherlands” for funding part of this research (PSA 04-PSA-E-01; 2008DFB90240). A second part was financed under the “Mangrove Capital” project, implemented by BPSDAL, Deltares, the Nature Conservancy, Wageningen University and Wetlands International. We also thank the Associate Editor and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the first version of our manuscript.

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Correspondence to J. C. Winterwerp.

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Winterwerp, J.C., Erftemeijer, P.L.A., Suryadiputra, N. et al. Defining Eco-Morphodynamic Requirements for Rehabilitating Eroding Mangrove-Mud Coasts. Wetlands 33, 515–526 (2013).

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