Mangrove forest restoration and rehabilitation

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

López-Portillo, J, Lewis III, RR, Saenger, P, Rovai, A, Koedman, N, Dahdouh-Guesbas, F, Agraz-Hernández, C & Rivera-Monroy, VH 2017, 'Mangrove forest restoration and rehabilitation', in VH Rivera-Monroy, S Yip Lee, E Kristensen & RR Twilley (eds), Mangrove ecosystems: a global biogeographic perspective, Springer, Switzerland, pp. 301- 345. ISBN: 9783319622040.


We analyzed current best practices and recommendations used in the implementation of mangrove rehabilitation and restoration (R/R) projects in the Atlantic-East Pacific (AEP) and the Indo-West Pacific biogeographic regions during the last 20 years. Comprehensive literature and World Wide Web searches were performed identifying 90 sites around the world where R/R actions have been implemented. For each site, we analyzed the sources of damage/impact and classified the origin as natural (siltation, erosion, the direct and indirect effect of tropical storms or tsunamis) or anthropogenic (pollution, land use policies, overharvesting, aquaculture, altered hydrology and hydroperiod). In most cases, the causes of damage were a complex mixture associated to erosion, hydrological impairment, deforestation, siltation, and land conversion for aquaculture and other land uses. The area extension of mangrove sites undergoing restoration or just afforestation ranged from few square meters to several thousand hectares. Numerous projects were implemented without an underlying science-based approach and were often ill-prepared and unsuccessful. Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to restore or rehabilitate mangrove wetlands, published studies (particularly peer reviewed) provide useful insights into designing R/R projects with clearly defined and prioritized management objectives based on a diagnostic of the source of damage/deterioration. A critical step is to develop a decision tree that serves as a guide to optimize the use of available funding in the development, implementation, and monitoring of R/R protocols to set clear objectives, goals and deadlines. These steps should be part of a robust research agenda based on sound ecological theory and reliable monitoring practices, including the participation of local communities. Any monitoring and reporting program should address spatial and temporal replication that explicitly includes reference sites near the target restoration site. The results of each R/R project, whether successful or not, should be published, as they are critical sources of data and information for further development of mangrove R/R practices and methods within the community of restoration ecology science. We urge the continental level implementation of guidelines to advance international initiatives aimed to protect and conserve one the most productive and threatened coastal ecosystems in the world.