Despite the known ecological and economic importance of mangrove ecosystems, research is still lacking as to what extent local populations depends on various forest products, or how this might be related to their economic status (i.e. poor, middle and rich), age, or gender (male and female) relations. In the present study, the percentage of people depending on such resources in the Galle-Unawatuna area (Sri Lanka) for their subsistence needs was assessed through a survey. The results indicated that local people rely on mangroves to a greater extent for fishery products, fuelwood, and edible plants, than for house/boat construction material, medicinal and other non-timber forest products. All people under the poor, middle and rich categories use mangrove resources, although greater dependency of the poor is common. In relation to age, the mangrove resources utilization was high among old (>60 years) people. A gendered division of labor indicating the men involved in fishery-related activities and women in edible plant collection was observed. In addition, the use of mangrove resources is not necessarily poverty-driven: preference and tradition also play important roles. However, the physical infrastructure developments (i.e. construction of a cement factory, dam and road) have had several negative impacts ranging from water quality deterioration and dynamic shifts in mangrove vegetation to reduced fish production in the vicinity. Given our results, possible amendments to the existing rules governing forest conservation are recommended in order to provide long-term benefits for local livelihoods as well as ecosystem.
Ocean & Coastal Management – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2013
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