As Good as (G)Old? Comparing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of Restored and Natural Mangrove Forests in the Wallacea Region

  Mangrove forests are unique intertidal ecosystems connecting the land- and seascape. They provide habitat to terrestrial and marine species, sustain the livelihoods of millions of mostly poor people globally, and are considered as high priority habitats in climate change mitigation strategies, due to their extraordinary carbon sink capacity. Mangroves forests are degraded globally, with land use change being the single most serious threat at present. Successful restoration/rehabilitation of diverse, functional, resource-rich and resilient mangrove forests is a major development challenge in many countries, including Indonesia. The so called Blue Revolution - the conversion of mangroves to (unsustainable) aquaculture ponds in the 80s and 90s - is one major reason why the country has lost 40% of its mangroves over the last three decades. This has caused manifold problems for people's lives. Halting and reversing Indonesia's loss of mangrove natural assets is key to improve coastal livelihoods and reduce poverty. The Indonesian government currently spends around $13 million a year for planting mangroves on degraded areas. Many planting projects in Indonesia and elsewhere in the world have failed, and it is mostly understood why (e.g. due to failure to achieve hydrological restoration before plantation, the use of the wrong foundation species and neglecting key social factors, such as ensuring locally agreed goals for the initiative). There are however numerous critical information gaps in understanding how successful the "successful" projects are in regards to recreating diverse and functional self-organising and self-maintaining systems. CoReNat will investigate outcomes of established community-based mangrove restoration/ rehabilitation (R/R) projects in the heart of Wallacea - North-Sulawesi - Indonesia, to unravel whether these mangroves are "As good as (G)Old?". The overall project aims are to assess whether mangrove ecosystem biodiversity, functions, resilience and service provision have been restored, and to make evidence-based recommendations for maximizing the success of future R/R efforts in Wallacea (and beyond). Combining UK and Indonesian experience, expertise and scientific excellence, CoReNat will provide evidence-based recommendations to relevant stakeholder to guide future ecological R/R efforts. CoReNat takes a novel interdisciplinary approach to deliver a comprehensive ecosystem evaluation of established restored/rehabilitated and adjacent natural (reference) mangroves, bringing together paleoecology, geoscience, botany, zoology, environmental microbiology, ecological network analysis combined with next generation sequencing, toxicology and bioexploration. CoReNat will: provide new data on the region's (mangrove-associated) biodiversity and species interactions, for conserved as well as for rehabilitated/restored mangrove forests, - apply and generate innovative new tools for the field of mangrove restoration, - provide data that will allow a better understanding of the biodiversity, functioning and services of mono-specific versus multi-specific replanted mangroves, - support the provision of solutions to mangrove conservation, restoration/ rehabilitation and management, - explore current local use of conserved and restored mangroves, as well as potential new avenues for business and innovation, to help balance Indonesia's need for conservation with economic development.

The bilateral project, co-funded by NERC (UK)/Newton Fund and RISTEKDIKTI (Indonesia) is delivered by a consortium of researchers from 3 UK and 4 Indonesian Universities:

UK Principal Investigator: Dr Karen Diele (Edinburgh Napier University)
Indonesian Principal Investigator: Professor Daniel Murdiyarso (Bogor Agricultural University / CIFOR)
UK Co-Investigators: Dr Darren Evans (Newcastle University), Professor Ulrich Salzmann (Northumbria University Newcastle), Professor Mark Huxham (Edinburgh Napier University) and Professor Ian Singleton (Edinburgh Napier University)
Indonesian Co-Investigators: Dr Aiyen Tjoa (Tadulako University), Dr Agus Trianto (Diponegoro University) and Dr Rignolda Djamaluddin (Sam Ratulangi University) as well as partners from the non-HEI institutions Blue Forests, CIFOR and the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs (Kemenko Maritim)

  • Start Date:

    14 November 2018

  • End Date:

    13 November 2021

  • Activity Type:

    Externally Funded Research

  • Funder:

    Natural Environment Research Council

  • Value:

    £643839

Project Team