Project lists

36.Integrated planning and practices for mangrove management, agriculture and aquaculture in Myanmar
20 Mar 2022     
Project title Integrated planning and practices for mangrove management associated with agriculture and aquaculture in Myanmar [2018P1-MYR]
Supervisory agencies
  1. Forest Department of Myanmar
  2. Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Australia
Executing agency University of Queensland, Australia
Budget in USD (total/APFNet grant) 547,070/309,670
Duration January 2018–December 2020
Target economy Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Location Pyindaye Mangrove Forest Reserve, Amar town, Myanmar
  • Investigate key issues associated with mangrove conversion and degradation.
  • Conduct participatory micro-planning for mangrove management in associated with agriculture and aquaculture development.
  • Apply best practices in mangrove restoration and management and aquaculture in mangrove forests in the project area.
  • Enhance policy development capacity to facilitate design and implementation of mangrove restoration and management.
  • Contribute to sustainable livelihoods and community development within the project area.
Expected outputs
  • Integrated micro-planning approaches for sustainable mangrove management in associated with agriculture and aquaculture production in the selected landscapes.
  • Implementation of plans developed by the community and the establishment of pilot models for demonstration of best practices in Myanmar.
  • Capacity building and expertise exchange.
  • Improvement of ecosystem services, local livelihoods and project’s scientific outputs.
Myanmar, while rich in natural beauty and resources, is one of the economies most threatened by the adverse effects of climate change, including more extreme weather events, sea level rise and flooding.
Mangrove forests are perhaps the last forest frontier against the sea and act as an important barrier, mitigating both sea level rise and the negative effects of flooding. Healthy mangrove forests will increase resilience to climate change, provide crucial habitat for local species and a more stable coastline. At the same time, mangrove forests are often an important part of local people’s livelihoods. In fact, in the 48,500-ha Pyindaye Mangrove Forest Reserve, mangrove forests contribute about 25 percent of total household income, the highest contribution compared to other income sources. However, the extraction of timber and firewood or a total conversion to other land uses such as cropping and aquaculture have threatened these ecosystems.
The APFNet-funded project “Integrated planning and practices for mangrove management associated with agriculture and aquaculture in Myanmar” set out in 2018 to find new ways to balance the livelihood needs of local people and the needs of the ecosystem.
Aquaculture in restored mangrove forests
While an important component of Myanmar’s economy since 1953, aquaculture is traditionally regarded detrimental to mangrove forests. Generally mangrove forests have been cleared to make room for aquaculture, rather than integrated with aquaculture activities, due to technical difficulties.
Most development projects in Myanmar have focused on single or a limited range of issues associated with mangrove forest conservation or restoration. Some projects and programmes have worked on mangrove restoration while others have focused on building community forestry institutions and frameworks. Some projects supported the development of aquaculture but did not integrate mangrove forests as important habitat for aquaculture species. Thus many projects have not achieved sustainable success. There is a need to consider both mangrove restoration and livelihood improvement concurrently.
After reviewing issues and problems in typical mangrove landscapes in the most important delta of Myanmar, project activities for the restoration and management of mangrove forests integrated with aquaculture and agriculture in target sites were proposed. The core idea was to integrate aquaculture and mangrove restoration in the same area, transforming areas of mangroves that are often of limited immediate direct benefit to local communities into new sites that are a source of sustainable income as well.
Following consideration of a range of potential aquaculture products, a crab mini-hatchery and 66 ha of crab-fattening aquaculture ponds were established in restored mangrove areas. Although technologically challenging, the crab hatchery promises to become one of the key mechanisms to ensure sustainability in the project area, if successful, as it will significantly reduce pressure on natural crab populations.
Integrated models do require more refined techniques. This model was achieved with the support of the University of Queensland working in close cooperation with local communities. The greatest challenge, in fact, was the distance of the designated aquaculture ponds within the community forest to the owners, as increasing distance exponentially increased management costs.
In addition, other new forest restoration models were showcased on 4.9 ha in the delta, introducing many important restoration ideas that change traditional practices, such as not using burning (which releases copious amounts of carbon) as a site preparation method. Important “timber” mangrove species were planted, including 17,000 seedlings of Casuarina equisetifolia and 6,000 seedlings of Melaleuca cajuputi.
In the long term, a set of ten guidelines for locally adapted silviculture and aquaculture will be used as future reference for the restoration of further sites post-project. Eight guidelines have already been produced by the project. In addition, through a collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute, economic and social values of mangrove forests in the delta were assessed with far-reaching implications for sustainable management.
Multiple training courses for over 92 people were also organized, including training on forest restoration techniques, crab hatchery management (and a study tour to Viet Nam to learn about crab hatchery management in early 2020) and crab aquaculture. This has helped the local community to successfully conduct project activities during the project and likely beyond.
Participatory micro-planning and co-management of resources
In Southeast Asia, strategic planning is mostly only done at the national or regional level, often due to resource constraints. Yet, in order to sustainably manage any given resource, a detailed plan has to be developed at local scales and with local stakeholders.
Based on this knowledge, this project originally aimed to develop such plans through participatory micro-planning, using participatory rural appraisal techniques to understand the unique situation and interests of the community and collect data and information. In this technique, stakeholders identify key issues associated with mangrove conversion and degradation and how mangrove forests will be able to contribute to a sustainable and resilient landscape. Subsequently through participatory land use planning with local staff, community leaders and local residents, a planning document and pilot model for mangrove restoration within aquaculture production would be devised.
However, in the project’s first year, such a plan was impossible to develop due to local regulations on land use rights and land management. Thus, the documents and maps of current and expected future land use prepared by the community were not submitted to higher authorities for approval. Despite this setback, these documents still assisted the community internally to understand their land better.
Activities in the final year of the project included:

  • Building local capacity with seven training courses.
  • Maintained and monitored mangrove restoration models established in 2018.
  • Continued enrichment planting within the community’s degraded mangrove forest.
  • Tested first rotation of crab mini-hatchery.
  • Established crab-fattening models for 23 farmers in five villages.
  • Established nursery to support tree planting with 23,000 seedlings.
  • Continued research activities on mangrove carbon sequestration and other major products from mangroves in the region. This led to a report, in cooperation with the Global Green Growth Institute.
  • Produced forest status and land use maps for the project region and analysis of mangrove restoration priority area within the landscape.
  • Conducted mid-term review workshop.