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  • Governing mangroves: From Tanzania to Indonesia

Governing mangroves: From Tanzania to Indonesia

The sun sets behind mangrove trees on Osi Island, Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR
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The sun sets behind mangrove trees on Osi Island, Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR

Mangroves constitute only 0.5 percent of forest area worldwide, but millions of people depend on them for food, income and protection of coastlines against erosion.

Since 1980, about one-fifth of the world’s mangroves have disappeared. Although human pressures are a major threat, little is known about the governance conditions that facilitate long-term conservation and restoration of these coastal forests — questions that will become all the more relevant as countries develop frameworks for action on climate change.

“Research to date has typically focused on the biophysical dimensions of mangroves, since a lack of knowledge in this area was considered a major obstacle to managing them,” explains Nining Liswanti, as Indonesia Coordinator of the Global Comparative Study on Forest Tenure Reform (GCS-Tenure), adding that mangrove governance remains relatively unexplored territory.

To fill this critical gap, scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), coordinated by Principal Scientist Esther Mwangi, set out to explore tenure and governance arrangements of mangroves through a global review.

They have so far conducted case studies in the Rufiji delta of Tanzania, which has one of the two most extensive mangrove areas in East Africa, and in Lampung province in Indonesia, the country with the largest mangrove forest cover in the world, accounting for up to 22 percent of the world’s mangroves.

At these sites, scientists analyzed national-level legal and policy frameworks, coordination across government agencies, and institutional arrangements at the local level — looking at “how decisions are made and the ability to implement them, both in terms of resources and capacity,” says the Coordinator of the Tanzania study, Baruani Mshale.

Watch: Protecting North Sumatran mangroves, supporting biodiversity, people and the world

INVOLVING COMMUNITIES

In Tanzania, the main dangers to mangroves are clearing for paddy rice farming and salt evaporation pans, unregulated harvesting for charcoal and timber, and growing competition between various foreign and local land-users.

Mangrove trees grow in Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR

“Mangrove forests in Indonesia continue to face enormous threats from economic activities like aquaculture and timber logging,” and half of them were destroyed between 1970 and 2001, the study notes.

Over the past 20 years, the Government of Indonesia has made interventions to curb mangrove deforestation, while in Tanzania, all mangrove forests are owned by the state and managed under strict protection, with restricted use by local communities. Yet threats to mangrove systems remain unabated. So what can be done?

“Expanding and strengthening the tenure rights of local communities to mangroves should be a central component of their sustainable management and conservation,” concludes the Tanzania case study. The key, the researchers find, is to strike a balance between forest use and conservation, and to involve communities in mangrove management by devolving rights to tenure.

This participatory approach is backed by evidence in terrestrial forests around the world, Mshale says. “When rights are granted to locals, they can derive livelihood benefits from natural resources, so they become active conservation agents and forests can be sustainably managed.”

Devolving rights over mangrove tenure and management comes with further benefits: it incentivizes communities to take ownership of mangrove conservation, and it reduces the distrust between locals and state conservation agencies — institutions historically tasked with keeping locals from settling in forests and using their resources.

Community-based approaches are also cost-effective.

“Strict protection approaches have generally failed for managing natural resources that people rely on for their livelihoods,” says Mshale. As populations grow and the pressure on resources increases, restricting access and use becomes more expensive and ineffective, he notes.

In Liswanti’s words, “it is impossible for authorities to enforce the rehabilitation of mangroves without the participation of communities.”

Read more: Protecting Tanzania’s mangroves

PRIORITIES FOR ACTION

Community-based management of mangrove forests is progressively gaining momentum. In Tanzania, the government has recently introduced regulated use in the Rufiji delta through various pilots, and Lampung province in Indonesia has seen community rehabilitation initiatives emerge in the past 10 to 20 years.

For sustainable management to flourish, however, a number of steps in policy, practice and research need to be taken. According to the analyses, a first priority is “better coordinating national and sub-national laws and policies,” as well as strengthening collaboration between the forestry, fisheries and agriculture sectors.

Tanzania has no specific policy tailored to the unique needs of mangrove systems, and in Indonesia, “no single national authority and policy on mangrove forest management operates in practice,” though mangrove-specific regulations at the local level fill up the void in some ways.

Birds perch among mangroves in North Sumatra, Indonesia. SWAMP Project
Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

In Lampung, for instance, community leaders play a central role in mobilizing local action and liasing with external actors for mangrove protection, but “these links need to be regularized to sustain local effort over the longer term,” the study finds.

While emphasizing this need for mangrove-specific frameworks, the researchers found that at the local level, mangrove-specific regulations temper or substitute the array of national regulations.

Ensuring adequate financial and technical capacity for management by both the government and local communities is also key, as is expanding possibilities for income generation by locals, including access to markets for regulated mangrove products.

Women are particularly engaged in mangrove use, but they are often left out of decision-making and benefit-sharing. “Sociocultural and religious norms prevent women from participating in discussions that take place in public spaces,” says Mshale. Beyond legal and institutional provisions, alternative participatory processes should be considered to ensure that women’s voices are heard.

DRIVING CHANGE

Other priorities are supporting participatory management across all tenure arrangements, addressing political influence at the national and local levels, and embracing a landscape approach that takes into account all activities affecting mangroves, including farming, herding and the activities of foreign land-based investors.

Indonesian villages outside of state forest zones, for example, have been engaged in mangrove rehabilitation since 1995 to control erosion. However, they do not have regular access to government resources. “I admire their patience,” says Liswanti, “but it will be hard for communities to keep it up indefinitely without financial support.”

In Tanzania, politicians encourage mangrove clearance for paddy rice farming to gain support during election times. “Politicians are key to changing people’s behavior, so we must find ways to work with them in favor of management strategies that achieve both environmental and livelihood outcomes,” stresses Mshale.

CIFOR’s case studies have been presented to stakeholders in both Tanzania and Indonesia, spurring dialogue between authorities, communities, non-governmental organizations, academics and donors.

Additionally, scientists are looking into mangrove governance in Kenya (2017) and Vietnam (2018).

Further research into governance and tenure aspects is crucial, says Mshale, but the initial path has been blazed. “Each actor has its share of responsibility, so maintaining this dialogue is a vital first step to bringing about positive change.”

By Gloria Pallares, originally published at CIFOR’s Forest News

For more information on this topic, please contact Esther Mwangi at [email protected] or Baruani Mshale at [email protected] or Nining Liswanti at [email protected].


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

  • Home
  • Governing mangroves: From Tanzania to Indonesia

Governing mangroves: From Tanzania to Indonesia

The sun sets behind mangrove trees on Osi Island, Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The sun sets behind mangrove trees on Osi Island, Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR

Mangroves constitute only 0.5 percent of forest area worldwide, but millions of people depend on them for food, income and protection of coastlines against erosion.

Since 1980, about one-fifth of the world’s mangroves have disappeared. Although human pressures are a major threat, little is known about the governance conditions that facilitate long-term conservation and restoration of these coastal forests — questions that will become all the more relevant as countries develop frameworks for action on climate change.

“Research to date has typically focused on the biophysical dimensions of mangroves, since a lack of knowledge in this area was considered a major obstacle to managing them,” explains Nining Liswanti, as Indonesia Coordinator of the Global Comparative Study on Forest Tenure Reform (GCS-Tenure), adding that mangrove governance remains relatively unexplored territory.

To fill this critical gap, scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), coordinated by Principal Scientist Esther Mwangi, set out to explore tenure and governance arrangements of mangroves through a global review.

They have so far conducted case studies in the Rufiji delta of Tanzania, which has one of the two most extensive mangrove areas in East Africa, and in Lampung province in Indonesia, the country with the largest mangrove forest cover in the world, accounting for up to 22 percent of the world’s mangroves.

At these sites, scientists analyzed national-level legal and policy frameworks, coordination across government agencies, and institutional arrangements at the local level — looking at “how decisions are made and the ability to implement them, both in terms of resources and capacity,” says the Coordinator of the Tanzania study, Baruani Mshale.

Watch: Protecting North Sumatran mangroves, supporting biodiversity, people and the world

INVOLVING COMMUNITIES

In Tanzania, the main dangers to mangroves are clearing for paddy rice farming and salt evaporation pans, unregulated harvesting for charcoal and timber, and growing competition between various foreign and local land-users.

Mangrove trees grow in Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR

“Mangrove forests in Indonesia continue to face enormous threats from economic activities like aquaculture and timber logging,” and half of them were destroyed between 1970 and 2001, the study notes.

Over the past 20 years, the Government of Indonesia has made interventions to curb mangrove deforestation, while in Tanzania, all mangrove forests are owned by the state and managed under strict protection, with restricted use by local communities. Yet threats to mangrove systems remain unabated. So what can be done?

“Expanding and strengthening the tenure rights of local communities to mangroves should be a central component of their sustainable management and conservation,” concludes the Tanzania case study. The key, the researchers find, is to strike a balance between forest use and conservation, and to involve communities in mangrove management by devolving rights to tenure.

This participatory approach is backed by evidence in terrestrial forests around the world, Mshale says. “When rights are granted to locals, they can derive livelihood benefits from natural resources, so they become active conservation agents and forests can be sustainably managed.”

Devolving rights over mangrove tenure and management comes with further benefits: it incentivizes communities to take ownership of mangrove conservation, and it reduces the distrust between locals and state conservation agencies — institutions historically tasked with keeping locals from settling in forests and using their resources.

Community-based approaches are also cost-effective.

“Strict protection approaches have generally failed for managing natural resources that people rely on for their livelihoods,” says Mshale. As populations grow and the pressure on resources increases, restricting access and use becomes more expensive and ineffective, he notes.

In Liswanti’s words, “it is impossible for authorities to enforce the rehabilitation of mangroves without the participation of communities.”

Read more: Protecting Tanzania’s mangroves

PRIORITIES FOR ACTION

Community-based management of mangrove forests is progressively gaining momentum. In Tanzania, the government has recently introduced regulated use in the Rufiji delta through various pilots, and Lampung province in Indonesia has seen community rehabilitation initiatives emerge in the past 10 to 20 years.

For sustainable management to flourish, however, a number of steps in policy, practice and research need to be taken. According to the analyses, a first priority is “better coordinating national and sub-national laws and policies,” as well as strengthening collaboration between the forestry, fisheries and agriculture sectors.

Tanzania has no specific policy tailored to the unique needs of mangrove systems, and in Indonesia, “no single national authority and policy on mangrove forest management operates in practice,” though mangrove-specific regulations at the local level fill up the void in some ways.

Birds perch among mangroves in North Sumatra, Indonesia. SWAMP Project
Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

In Lampung, for instance, community leaders play a central role in mobilizing local action and liasing with external actors for mangrove protection, but “these links need to be regularized to sustain local effort over the longer term,” the study finds.

While emphasizing this need for mangrove-specific frameworks, the researchers found that at the local level, mangrove-specific regulations temper or substitute the array of national regulations.

Ensuring adequate financial and technical capacity for management by both the government and local communities is also key, as is expanding possibilities for income generation by locals, including access to markets for regulated mangrove products.

Women are particularly engaged in mangrove use, but they are often left out of decision-making and benefit-sharing. “Sociocultural and religious norms prevent women from participating in discussions that take place in public spaces,” says Mshale. Beyond legal and institutional provisions, alternative participatory processes should be considered to ensure that women’s voices are heard.

DRIVING CHANGE

Other priorities are supporting participatory management across all tenure arrangements, addressing political influence at the national and local levels, and embracing a landscape approach that takes into account all activities affecting mangroves, including farming, herding and the activities of foreign land-based investors.

Indonesian villages outside of state forest zones, for example, have been engaged in mangrove rehabilitation since 1995 to control erosion. However, they do not have regular access to government resources. “I admire their patience,” says Liswanti, “but it will be hard for communities to keep it up indefinitely without financial support.”

In Tanzania, politicians encourage mangrove clearance for paddy rice farming to gain support during election times. “Politicians are key to changing people’s behavior, so we must find ways to work with them in favor of management strategies that achieve both environmental and livelihood outcomes,” stresses Mshale.

CIFOR’s case studies have been presented to stakeholders in both Tanzania and Indonesia, spurring dialogue between authorities, communities, non-governmental organizations, academics and donors.

Additionally, scientists are looking into mangrove governance in Kenya (2017) and Vietnam (2018).

Further research into governance and tenure aspects is crucial, says Mshale, but the initial path has been blazed. “Each actor has its share of responsibility, so maintaining this dialogue is a vital first step to bringing about positive change.”

By Gloria Pallares, originally published at CIFOR’s Forest News

For more information on this topic, please contact Esther Mwangi at [email protected] or Baruani Mshale at [email protected] or Nining Liswanti at [email protected].


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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  • How participatory research gets to the bottom of forest tenure

How participatory research gets to the bottom of forest tenure

Cattle graze on agricultural land in Maluku, Indonesia. Photo by T. Herawati/ CIFOR
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Agricultural land at Seram Barat District, Maluku. Photo by Tuti Herawati/ CIFOR
Agricultural land at Seram Barat District, Maluku. Photo by Tuti Herawati/ CIFOR

Adapted from CIFOR’s Forests News

What are the biggest obstacles that local communities face when ensuring rights to their forest resources? Community leaders say it’s the red tape and the cost of travel from rural villages to the towns where government offices are located. They also see poor-quality education and health care as additional hurdles that make it more difficult for communities to organize. Meanwhile, government officials note other obstacles, such as a shortage of staff or the difficulty of traveling to remote villages. Because these groups do not often engage in dialogue, problems can persist and forest-tenure reforms can stall. A recent workshop in Peru organized under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry brought both sides together with technical experts to discuss land tenure and land use rights. Barbara Fraser spoke to the researchers involved.

Participatory Prospective Analysis (PPA) is an innovative approach to discussing tenure problems that combines the knowledge of technical experts and decision makers with the knowledge of people from the communities. This happens in workshops which are part of the Global Comparative Study on Forest Tenure Reform, undertaken by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Peru, Indonesia and Uganda. This helps to identify factors affecting forest-tenure reform and design scenarios that could lead to better policies.

The workshops show participants how they can best address the complex issues of forest-tenure reform. Thy identify potential pitfalls, such as obstacles to the reform and to putting it into practice. This allows them to come up with strategies for mitigating negative factors.

“The first challenge is identifying the stakeholders, because you don’t know the people and their skills,” says Iliana Monterroso, coordinator of the study in Peru. “The process itself takes time, given the amount of discussions and brainstorming. And people have to listen to each other, so you don’t want people who are too dominating.”

It all begins with a workshop in which participants identify the social, technical, economic, political and environmental factors that affect the process of securing land tenure.

GCS-Tenure Project, Ambon  Seram island. Photo by Tuti Herawati/ CIFOR
GCS-Tenure Project, Ambon
Seram island. Photo by Tuti Herawati/ CIFOR

The researchers enter this information into a computer program, and participants use the results to examine how those factors influence each other directly and indirectly. After eliminating factors that they cannot control, they choose about five that they agree are most important. They then envision different scenarios to explore how land-tenure policy could change, depending on those factors and the actions that they and their organizations take.

This sounds complex, but it is worthwhile, says CIFOR researcher Nining Liswanti. “Discussing these scenarios help people think about strategies for avoiding outcomes that would not be as positive.”

Focus on Maluku, Indonesia

In Indonesia, the workshops included community leaders, officials from government forest, land and water agencies, and representatives from the private sector, non-governmental organizations and universities.

The goal was to design scenarios for implementing forest-tenure reforms on the densely populated island of Maluku, where no reforms have taken place, and for improving the livelihoods of people who depend on forests in the district of Lampung, on the southern tip of Sumatra, where most people are migrants and reforms are already under way.

The participants outlined possible future scenarios that ranged from the ideal—in which all stakeholders would make some concessions—to others in which the government or private interests had more power.

Participants all considered the government’s willingness to support forest-tenure reform as crucial for positive scenarios. Enforcement of forest regulations, community participation in forest management and respect for local cultures were also mentioned frequently.

Forest landscape in Uganda. Photo by Douglas Sheil for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Forest landscape in Uganda. Photo by Douglas Sheil for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Migration part of the picture in Uganda

In the western district of Kibaale, Uganda, immigration has swelled the number of people who depend on forest resources. This creates uncertainties about tenure and rights, which are further complicated by absentee landholders.

Masindi, also located in western Uganda, is marked by the destruction of forests for corporate farms and ranches, as well as the imminent possibility of oil production, which could harm forests, but which could also create better-paying jobs that might reduce people’s dependence on forests.

The Ugandan participants envisioned scenarios in which the government made and enforced clear rules for immigration and resettlement, budgeted for forest management and provided enough personnel to enforce regulations, while traditional community leaders received training in sustainable forest management.

Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon is the third location of the study. Photo: CIFOR
Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon is the third location of the study. Photo: CIFOR

PPA in Peru

In Peru, the analysis was done with government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations and leaders of communities scattered along rivers in the Amazonian regions of Loreto and Madre de Dios.

One persistent obstacle for the indigenous communities is that that they are not free to make decisions about forest use, because forests are considered a public good, governed by national laws as well as regional regulations. This makes building local and regional scenarios difficult, because they are still subject to the limitations imposed by national laws, according to researcher Alejandra Zamora, who is leading the application of the methodology in Peru.

Tensions also arise over overlapping land rights. Community leaders said they felt regional governments lacked the will to resolve tenure problems, while government officials said they were limited by budget constraints.

“These discussions help participants arrive at implementation processes that are more effective at improving tenure rights and resource access, as well as identifying who should be responsible for these actions,” says Monterroso. “They discover that there is not only one possible scenario, but rather various potential futures.”

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  • Informing REDD+ policy: An assessment of CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study

Informing REDD+ policy: An assessment of CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study

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This impact assessment from the first phase of FTA research concluded that the combination of research, policy engagement and practical support on the ground has been effective but also gives recommendations for improvements.

 


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