| Man in the Mangroves: The Socio-economic Situation of Human Settlements in Mangrove Forests (1986) |
The papers which follow are edited versions of presentations given at the Workshop on the Socioeconomic Situation of Human Settlements in Mangrove Forests, held at Nong Nuch Village, Pattaya, Thailand, 27-31 May 1985, under the auspices of the United Nations University and the National Research Council of Thailand.
Following the introductory addresses, the results of studies on socio-economic aspects of the use, development, and management of mangrove areas were considered in relation to ecological and environmental factors. A general introduction (Kunstadter) is followed by case studies of the situation in Thailand (Aksornkoae et al., and Puckprink), Malaysia (Chan), Indonesia (Mantra), Australia (Bird), Sri Lanka (Silva), Tanzania (Mainoya et al.), Japan (Miyawaki), and South America (Snedaker). The papers are followed by a set of recommendations based on a review of the situation in Thailand by the workshop participants in the perspective of the other case studies.
These case studies fall short of a global review (notable omissions include the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and other Pacific island nations, Burma, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Arabian peninsula, parts of Africa, and Central America). They nevertheless represent a reasonably comprehensive range of environmental, ecological, and socio-economic variations in humanmangrove relationships and the associated problems of development.
Many generalizations emerged from the diverse national settings described in the papers and from the ensuing discussion. Many of these are mentioned in the introductory chapter, and others are included in recommendations, which, although they refer specifically to Thailand, may have wider applicability.
The workshop was part of the activity of the United Nations University within a wider programme area on Resource Policy and Management (originally initiated in 1976 under the designation "Use and Management of Natural Resources"). One important bottleneck impeding the development of the right resourceuse systems in the tropics is the need for further research. Thus the UNU Resource Policy and Management programme has focused on a number of issues in projects such as Assessment Studies on Arid Lands Management (19771984), Water-Land Interactive Systems (19771984), HighlandLowland Interactive Systems (since 1977), Agro-forestry Systems (since 1977), and Coastal Resources Management (1977-1985) (United Nations University 1982). The objectives of these projects are connected with an international discussion on the interaction between population, resources, environment, and development, known by the acronym PRED.
As an example of the PRED interaction, one could mention the well-known phenomenon of shifting cultivation, or landrotation with bush fallow. This land-use system can be regarded as stable if the fallow periods are long enough for the regeneration of soil and vegetation. If, however, the pressure of population increases and the fallow intervals are shortened, the vegetation growth is reduced and soils are degraded. The system loses its productivity, and the subsistence of the population is no longer ensured. Previous solutions to this problem have been to introduce irrigated agriculture or tree crops, both of which have been successful in South-East Asia. However, a vision of the tropical zone as an exporter of tree crops and an importer of food is not realistic, particularly as the demand for tropical products is rather stagnant and land resources are becoming increasingly scarce. Also, even if countries earn a considerable amount of foreign exchange through exports of cash crops, they often need these earnings for other essential imports (e.g. in the field of technology) and not for food alone (Wailer 1984). These considerations are part of the rationale for a land-and resource-use system such as agro-forestry, which combines the production of food and wood (including firewood) and at the same time is useful as a tool for management of resources and conservation of the environment. It can be considered a nearly closed system, because it requires few costly inputs such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Because of the food crises, especially now in tropical Africa, further research, training, and dissemination of information on system requiring low external input are very important. One of the greatest weaknesses in new and appropriate forms of resource-use systems such as agroforestry, eco-farming, and aquaculture is the lack of management packages that can be implemented under specific conditions of climate, soil, and vegetation (Ruddle and Manshard 1981). This weakness is also characteristic of the mangrove ecosystem in the tropical and subtropical world.
The UNU work on mangroves is part of the Coastal Resources Management project, (coordinated by Eric Bird, of the University of Melbourne). Several studies on the use and management of coastal and nearshore resources in tropical environments were initiated under this project. A number of graduate research and training courses were sponsored in Indonesia (Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Sunda Strait) by the UNU. Several UNU fellowships to universities and research institutions were awarded, notably in Japan and the United States, and a series of international workshops in Fiji, Jeddah, Mombasa, and Paris was organized. Work started in 1983 on the traditional uses and socio-economic implications of ecosystem changes in tropical mangrove areas. Case studies were prepared in Thailand, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka, results of which are discussed in papers in this volume. The locations of activities and institutions associated with this project are shown on the map above.
Work on coastal resources is also linked to the newly established UNU project on Climatic, Biotic, and Human Interactions in the Humid Tropics, which was started in 1983. While this project concentrates mainly on big-physical and geophysiological problems (e.g. the effects of deforestation and land use on soil, hydrology, microclimate, and productivity), the human side is reflected in seven case studies on the resource uses of pioneer settlements in frontier zones of the humid tropics.
In sum, it is felt that there is not nearly enough applied and pure research on the very complex development thresholds of tropical countries. A combined effort of many institutions and organizations is needed for improved policy implementation. It is in this sense that this workshop is a contribution, as mandated in the Charter of the United Nations University, to solving some of "the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare. "
Walther Manshard, Programme Director, Development Studies Division, The United Nations University
Bird, E. C. F. 1984. "United Nations University -Coastal Resources Project." United Nations University, Tokyo.
Ruddle, K., and W. Manshard. 1981. Renewable natural resources and the environment. Tycooly International, Dublin.
United Nations University. 1982. The Natural Resources Programme: 1977-1981. United Nations University, Tokyo.
Waller, P. 1984. "The ecological handicaps of the tropics." Intereconomics (Hamburg), 3: 137-142.