Developing Resilient Mangrove Forests on Tanakeke Island
Mangrove forests on Tanakeke Island play an important role in terms of provision of timber products to the local community, as there are few to no alternatives for timber and fuel available to a majority of the island’s population. Protection of the conservation values of Tanakeke’s mangrove forest may be compatible with carefully planned local timber extraction, but mangrove timber harvest is not currently managed in a sustainable manner. Coupled with large-scale conversion to aquaculture, timber extraction has degraded the social, economic and ecological value of the islands mangrove resources. Together with Ecological Mangrove Rehabilitation, a plan for timber extraction should be prepared based upon careful assessment of the forest resource, coupled with community-led experiments on appropriate silviculture practices. This is to be attempted through the development of silviculture field schools together with groups of twenty-five community members.
There also exists the opportunity to increase the efficiency of timber post-harvest; such as improved fuelwood use and charcoal making. By validating the production function of the mangrove forest, an economic value to the timber resources is allocated which provides an incentive for management and protection of the resource. If community access and control of the resource is strengthened, income generated will benefit individuals, families and the community as a whole, while preserving ecological functions which also ensure the provision of economic goods and services to the community at-large. The management objective in this case is simply to validate community managed timber extraction, by basing it on empirical experiments, and demonstrating longterm improvements in mangrove and associated habitats.