Large areas of mangroves have been cleared for aquaculture – particularly shrimp production – in the tropics and sub-tropics. Apart from the loss of valuable ecosystem services – mangroves are important nursery grounds for many commercial fish species – clearance of mangroves has now left many coastal communities exposed to tropical storms such as cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons, storm surges, and salinisation of soils and fresh water supplies, which renders them unfit for human consumption or use.
Shrimp aquaculture is a “boom and bust” industry which has resulted in an estimated 250,000 hectares of shrimp ponds now being abandoned in former mangrove habitats in Asia. As they exist now, they are commercially unproductive. These ponds do, however, have the potential to be returned to functioning ecosystems that could begin once again to act as bio-shields to some of natures vagaries. In time, and through careful management, they could, also once again, become productive ecosystems, providing important goods and services, one of which would be greater protection to inland communities from storms and flooding.
This project, undertaken by Mangrove Action Project, is located in Trang Province, southern Thailand and builds on former experience that ranges from community-based approaches to ecological restoration and livelihood recovery to successful mangrove replanting schemes.
Ecological mangrove restoration will be accomplished using hydrological restoration to restore mangroves in former shrimp ponds, through the following activities:
- site surveys of abandoned ponds, including reference studies of any nearby mangroves in order to establish what mangrove species might have been present in the past;
- design of a hydrological restoration plan;
- restoration of natural hydrological flows;
- establishment of a mangrove nursery for small-scale planting in vulnerable areas as well as for awareness raising and environmental education;
- supporting livelihood diversification; and
community capacity building in natural resource management