Non-Timber Forest Product Livelihood-Focused Interventions in Support of Mangrove Restoration: A Call to Action

Debrot, Adolphe O.; Veldhuizen, Ab; Van Den Burg, Sander W.K.; Klapwijk, Charlotte J.; Islam, Nazrul; Alam, Iftakharul; Ahsan, Mohammed Nazmul; Ahmed, Moin U.; Hasan, Selim R.; Fadilah, Ratnawaty; Noor, Yus R.; Pribadi, Rudhi; Rejeki, Sri; Damastuti, Ekaningrum; Koopmanschap, Esther; Reinhard, Stijn; Terwisscha Van Scheltinga, Catharien; Verburg, Charlotte; Poelman, Marnix


Mangroves of tropical and subtropical shores and deltas contribute to ecosystem functioning and human wellbeing in numerous ways but continue to be lost or degraded worldwide at a rapid pace. Overexploitation driven by poverty is often the root cause of mangrove destruction and degradation. The negative feedback cycle between destruction and poverty can only be broken by justly valuing current or introducing new sustainable livelihood options to foster long-lasting local support for mangroves. The large array of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) that mangroves offer have rarely been developed beyond the subsistence level and remain undervalued as “products of the poor”. In light of the global trends towards sustainability and bio-economy, today they represent a major business opportunity for forest communities to produce high value-added end-user products. Even though mangrove NTFPs have been recognized to have high potential toward inclusive development and poverty alleviation and to be highly gender-equal, the development of mangrove NTFPs has continued to attract very little funding or research interest. Several ecological characteristics make commercialization of mangrove NTFPs particularly challenging. Production at economies of scale, including quality standards, as well as marketing and value chain management are all essential in order to develop these products beyond their subsistence role. To be most effective, a systems perspective on NTFP development is needed, whereby product-market development occurs in unison and based on a participative, inclusive and fair development approach. The species/product of choice for value-added product-market development in any specific community or area will depend on several factors. To address many of the typical constraints and maximize the chances of success, we suggest that the use of village or district-level cooperatives may be particularly useful. A better use of the untapped potential of mangroves for local livelihoods may form a most convincing advocate for local protection and restoration of mangrove forests. Therefore, funding agencies, governments and researchers alike are called to invest in mangrove NTFP development as a way to locally incentivize sustainable mangrove protection and restoration. View Full-Text