How do local communities benefit long term?

For many coastal communities, mangrove forests have been at the center of their lives since prehistoric times as important sources of food, timber, fuel, and medicine. Poverty and limited livelihood options beyond fishing have led people to sacrifice mangrove cover for aquaculture, agriculture, and development.

Lately, people have realized that mangroves not only offer protection from erosion, storms, and floods, but also constitute a real community asset. Mangrove trees safeguard fisheries, enhance tourism, and facilitate trade of vital mangrove commodities such as oysters and honey. Restoration projects and effective long-term management are excellent opportunities for engaging vulnerable groups such as indigenous people, women, and children in the processes, enhancing equity and building up benefits from mangroves.

What this tells us is that protecting and restoring mangrove forests can indeed secure a sustainable future for the adjacent communities.

About the author

Vasiliki I. Chalastani is a PhD candidate at the Laboratory of Harbour Works, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece. Her thesis, “Optimization Approaches for Marine Spatial Planning,” aims to develop tools for optimal use of the marine environment through reconciliation of human activities and conservation features. Previously, following her undergraduate studies as a civil engineer at NTUA, Chalastani pursued her MSc, “Water Air Pollution and Energy at Global and Regional Scales,” at École Polytechnique, Paris, France. While in France, she has completed an internship at the Laboratoire Océanographique de Villefranche and at École Normale Supérieure on ocean-based solutions. From 2018 to 2019, Chalastani acted as a consultant for the Alternate Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy of Greece, Nektarios Santorinios. In 2018, she worked for the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Paris, with Alexandre K. Magnan, on the issue of climate change adaptation. In 2019, Chalastani worked for the Saudi Red Sea Project, developing a preliminary marine spatial planning initiative, under the supervision of Carlos M. Duarte. She is a member of the National Chamber of Engineers and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), Greece.