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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 109-116

Mangrove Utilisation and Implications for Participatory Forest Management, South Africa


Discipline of Geography, School of Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg), Private Bag X01, Scottsville, KwaZulu-Natal, 3209, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
Trevor Hill
Discipline of Geography, School of Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg), Private Bag X01, Scottsville, KwaZulu-Natal, 3209
South Africa
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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South African rural coastal communities have utilised mangrove products for generations. However, the factors determining use are poorly understood and utilisation is rarely acknowledged in natural resource management. Since the post-apartheid government came to power in 1994, there has been a paradigm shift in government forest policy, and Participatory Forest Management (PFM) has been selected to implement these changes. This study was initiated to determine the utilisation of mangrove products, locally available alternatives and the implications for PFM. Combinations of methods were employed, including a participatory walk, group discussions, observation and semi-structured interviews. The main use of mangroves was for construction of buildings, with Bruguiera gymnorrhiza and Rhizophora mucronata being preferred. Diameters of stems selected for construction were approximately between 5-7 cm for poles and 2-3 cm for laths. Indigenous and exotic woods, and mud and sand blocks were also used for construction of buildings. PFM should include a plan for the sustainable utilisation of man­groves. The plan should be guided by national legislation and address the biology of the mangrove spe­cies. The plan should include livelihood issues and should in the long term promote the use of alternative construction materials to mangroves, and should enhance the non-consumptive value of the mangrove ecosystem.


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