Five Steps To Successful Ecological Restoration of Mangroves
Restoration and rehabilitation* of existing or former mangrove forest areas is extremely important today. In fact, given the importance of mangrove forest ecosystems, and the current threat to these coastal forests, this is an imperative. But actual planting of mangroves is rarely needed as mangroves annually produce hundreds or thousands of seeds or seedlings per tree, which under the proper hydrologic conditions can recolonize former mangrove areas (returned to normal hydrology) very rapidly.
There are many different techniques and methods utilized in restoring mangroves. Because some of these have resulted in identifiable successes or failures, we wish to present herein a summary description of several preferred methods for planning and implementing mangrove rehabilitation.
In summary, five critical steps are necessary to achieve successful mangrove restoration:
- Understand the autecology (individual species ecology) of the mangrove species at the site; in particular the patterns of reproduction, propagule distribution, and successful seedling establishment.
- Understand the normal hydrologic patterns that control the distribution and successful establishment and growth of targeted mangrove species.
- Assess modifications of the original mangrove environment that currently prevent natural secondary succession (recovery after damage).
- Design the restoration program to restore appropriate hydrology and, if possible, utilize natural volunteer mangrove propagule recruitment for plant establishment.
- Only utilize actual planting of propagules, collected seedlings, or cultivated seedlings after determining (through steps a-d) that natural recruitment will not provide the quantity of successfully established seedlings, rate of stabilization, or rate of growth of saplings established as objectives for the restoration project (Lewis and Marshall 1997).