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THE IMPORTANCE OF MANGROVES TO PEOPLE: A CALL TO ACTION

Case Study 6: Is the 100-year old mangrove timber industry at Matang (Malaysia) still sustainable? Location:  Matang, State of Perak, Malaysia

The Matang Mangrove forest reserve in Malaysia has been managed for over a century and is considered a model of sustainable forest resource use and wood production26,35. The reserve encompasses the largest area of mangroves in Peninsular Malaysia, covering about 500 square kilometres5, and is home to 156 species of birds, 114 species of fish and 48 species of crab36. Bats, squirrels and monkeys, such as the Silvered Langur and long-tailed Macaque, live in the canopy36.  Management involves a 30-year rotation cycle with thinning of the mangrove trees at 15 and 20 years37,38. The forest is also harvested for timber for poles and fuelwood. Following clear felling of a 30 year-old block, the area is replanted with Rhizophora spp. The forest authorities monitor the reserve and use the data to revise and improve management as necessary. For example, recent research has suggested that increased spacing of saplings during replanting would reduce the waste of seedlings and facilitate better growth39–41. The success of the scheme can be directly attributed to the commitment of the government, ongoing research and monitoring, regular revisions of the management plan and good relations between government, business and the local community39. The management plan regulates activities in the mangroves, such as fishing and forestry, and only non-destructive practices are permitted. These include fish cage and cockle farming which are an important source of income for coastal communities36,42. The portion of forest not used for silviculture is protected and acts as a buffer zone which is used for erosion mitigation, research and education, local community’s needs and for the maintenance of biodiversity36.

Lead Editors: Jan-Willem van Bochove*, Emma Sullivan* and Takehiro Nakamura** * UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) ** UNEP Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (UNEP/DEPI) Lead authors: Norman Duke (James Cook University), Ivan Nagelkerken (University of Adelaide), Tundi Agardy, (MARES/Forest Trends), Sue Wells, Hanneke van Lavieren (UN University) Advisory Body: Gabriel Grimsditch (UNEP/DEPI), Mark Spalding (The Nature Conservancy), Damon Stanwell-Smith, Claire Brown and Neil Burgess (UNEP-WCMC)

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