Using Facilitation Theory to Enhance Mangrove Restoration

Gedan, K.B. and B.R. Silliman

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Coastal populations depend on mangrove ecosystems for economic products, such as shrimp ponds, fish farms, and timber products, and for the ecosystem services they provide, such as coastal stabilization, wave attenuation, and nursery habitat for fish. These services, from both natural and converted mangrove areas, cannot be minimized, and, as Samson and Rollon (Growth Performance of Planted Mangroves in the Philippines: Revisiting Forest Management Strategies) suggest, it may not be feasible or prudent in all cases to restore former mangrove areas to mangrove forest. In many cases, the best decision will include a mix of exploitation, conservation, and restoration. Whether mangrove restorations proceed in mangrove or nonmangrove habitats, restorations are much more likely to be successful if they assume positive, rather than negative negative, density dependence during initial ecosystem development and thereby capitalize on advances in facilitation theory.

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Peer-reviewed Article