Reducing Our Risk

Mangrove Action Project

Entry Overview

Mangroves are among the most threatened habitats in the world, disappearing more quickly than inland rainforests with little notice. Most attempts at restoration fail because of lack of understanding of mangrove ecology & hydrology. Through Community-Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration (CBEMR), MAP is taking a more ecological approach designed to correct blatant errors that plague most attempts at restoration ending in costly, embarrassing failures. EMR works on restoring natural hydrology & geomorphology of the restoration site allowing natural reseeding to occur & greater biodiversity and long-term success in restoration. Because CBEMR works on basic ecological principles of functioning mangrove wetlands, it has greater potential to succeed. CBMR is more economically practical, potentially saving millions of dollars if utilized correctly.

General Info
Email :
Organization Address: 
606 Maynard Ave S. Suite 102
Seattle, Washington 98104
United States
Population Impacted: 
1.4 million+
Storm Surge
Identify the likelihood and frequency of this hazard : 
Storm surges are rare, high impact events, but with a warming climate it is anticipated that there will be an increase in the severity of storms surges, especially in the North Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Global sea level rise will likely also contribute to the damage of surges, and climate warming may double the risk of large storm surge events. The exact frequency and likelihood is localized, but may be considered annual in most areas.
Explain how vulnerable the community is to this hazard: 
Poor coastal residents, especially fishing communities, in developing countries are at the greatest risk.
List the potential affects of this hazard: 
Severe property damage (destruction of buildings and infrastructure), contamination of food and water supplies, loss of livelihood, environmental degradation/erosion, mass population displacement, severe injury and death.
Identify how sensitive the community is to these affects: 
Many coastal communities in developing countries rely on natural resources for their livelihoods, including fisheries and forests. In rural areas especially, many residents are completely unprepared for surges and hurricanes. As a result, poor coastal communities are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of natural disasters. Recovery assistance from outside the communities in more remote areas is likely to be minimal.
Preparedness Goal: 
Community-based ecological mangrove restoration (CBEMR) to build up a mangrove barrier zone and attenuate surge and wind strength.
Implementing Actions: 

In collaboration with communities, organizations and local government, MAP works to: 1. Understand both the individual species and the community ecology of the naturally occurring mangrove species at the site, paying particular attention to patterns of reproduction, distribution, and successful seedling establishment. 2. Understand the normal hydrology that controls the distribution and successful establishment and growth of targeted mangrove species. 3. Assess the modifications of the mangrove environment that occurred and that currently prevent natural secondary succession. 4. Select appropriate restoration areas through application of Steps 1-3, above, that are both likely to succeed in rehabilitating a forest ecosystem and are cost effective. Consider the available labor to carry out the projects, including adequate monitoring of their progress towards meeting quantitative goals established prior to restoration. This step includes resolving land ownership/use issues necessary for ensuring long-term access to and conservation of the site. 5. Design the restoration program at appropriate sites selected in Step 4, above, to restore the appropriate hydrology and utilize natural volunteer mangrove recruitment for natural plant establishment. 6. Utilize actual planting of propagules or seedlings only after determining through Steps 1-5, above, that natural recruitment will not provide the quantity of successfully established seedlings, rate of stabilization, or rate of growth as required for project success.

Describe Your Solution: 

Ecological Mangrove Restoration is a holistic approach to mangrove restoration that also includes a view of the proposed plant and animal community to be restored as part of a larger ecosystem with other ecological communities that also have functions to be protected or restored. EMR aims at the restoration of certain ecosystem traits and the replication of natural functions. It has been reported that mangrove forests around the world can self-repair or successfully undergo secondary succession over periods of 15-30 years if: 1) the normal tidal hydrology is not disrupted and 2) the availability of waterborne seeds or seedlings (propagules) of mangroves from adjacent stands is not disrupted or blocked. EMR restores the natural hydrology along the coasts, thus greatly increasing overall success rates for restoring damaged mangrove wetlands, while producing a more natural and bio-diverse restoration. The goal is to restore full biodiversity to large degraded areas, while involving local communities in the restoration, monitoring and resource management decisions over the long term. Far beyond just hand planting seedlings- the “gardening” approach that usually ends in failure. EMR restores natural water flows and emulates the former coastal terrain, greatly increasing the overall success rate for restoring resilient mangrove forests. Healthy mangrove forests with enough area can reduce storm surge depths by 5-50 cm per kilometer, which can greatly reduce flooding in low-lying areas behind the stretch of mangrove forests. Wind and swell waves may be reduced 13-66% over 100 meters. Denser mangroves can also capture debris and reduce wind wave height, preventing extensive damage and deaths. In the aftermath, mangroves can also provide food, fuel, and construction materials to promote faster recovery.


Mangrove restoration provides local communities with sustainable livelihoods; economic valuations and forecasts can be taken during and post restoration process. In one example, community forest project increased income by 200% and fishermen saved 3.5 hours of work and US$1.20-$1.60 per day. Intact forests are worth between $1000 -$13000 as nurseries for fish, wastewater and pollution treatment, non-timber forest products and coastal defenses. Coastal defense alone is worth around $1700/hectare. Making use of natural processes to restore mangroves is also more cost-effective than constructing levees and sea walls.


as about 75% of all tropical fish species spend the juvenile period of their lives in mangroves. Rehabilitated sites provision ecosystem services that strengthen fisheries and provide livelihoods. Mangroves themselves increase in height and crown spread. The hydrology is restored, resulting in free flowing tidal streams, and native fauna are observed. Even small projects can restore nutrient cycling, habitat, carbon capture and storage, sediment stabilization, and water treatment.


EMR projects specifically address the social perspectives and aim to maximize community involvement, especially women, the poor, and marginal community members. Alternative livelihoods for women have been created through natural fisheries, cultivation of other plant species, and sustainable use of wood products. Some communities have established communal conservation areas in the face of unsustainable development projects. Some conservation sites have also become hubs for research and environmental education, as well as demonstration sites for green technologies such as solar power and rainwater harvesting.

What were the negative or unintended impacts (if any) associated with implementing this solution? : 


Return on Investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?: 

Restoration costs vary, but generally $1000-$2000 per hectare for 5-25 hectares and $1000 or less for projects greater than 25 hectares. A site will never return to the exact conditions pre-degradation, but the return on such an investment is certainly worth it based on the economics alone. The resulting social and environmental impacts further solidify the critical importance of mangrove restoration. A conservative valuation of mangroves at $3400 per hectare can be up to three times the return on investment and even at the lowest valuation of $1000 per hectare the return is still generally break even from an economic perspective. Accounting for the environmental and social benefits, restoration is a solid investment. The sustainable livelihoods generated from intact mangrove forests promote continued ecological management and strengthen community economies. Healthy mangroves attenuate damage from storm surge, reducing property damage and casualties while also promoting faster recovery in areas that might get little attention from state and national governments.

What are the main factors needed to successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?: 

The biggest challenge in implementing CBEMR is not the actual restoration process itself, but gaining the permitted access to suitable sites. Though there may be 400,000 ha of abandoned and disused shrimp farms worldwide, and many of these in former mangrove areas, gaining needed permission or legal access to perform the restoration is an immense obstacle. It will take more education about the greater economic value of intact mangroves vs. the lesser value of a shrimp farm occupying the same area. In order to successfully implement MAP’s CBEMR method, restoration must: 1) be based on ecological mangrove principals – what was the area’s history of use, what mangrove species grew there, what caused the destruction or degradation, what were their hydrological requirements, how deep was the substrate in which they grew, what were the fresh water inputs, and where did exchange of tidal and sea water take place? 2) involve local stakeholders in planning, implementing, and monitoring 3) work with (not against) nature by encouraging natural regeneration 4) only resort to planting mangroves for very specific reasons where natural propagules are not available.

Contest Info
Contest Name: 
Reducing Our Risk

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