Combining Ecology & Communities for Biodiverse, Sustainable Forests

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“Community-Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration”

MAP promotes and teaches its best practice ‘Community-Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration’ (CBEMR) technique. Involving local stakeholders right from the outset, this process encourages the mitigation of mangrove stressors and the facilitation of natural regeneration where at all possible. Unlike many planting projects, CBEMR works with nature and takes into account mangrove ecology and biology to restore degraded mangroves by mimicking natural processes. Natural regeneration has the advantage of not only producing a more biodiverse mangrove, which increases its resilience to climate change, but also potentially more economical as it avoids the costs of nurseries and planting out.


Working with local communities – including in networking, educational, and livelihood training capacities – is integral to the success of projects, ensuring that those living within the area will be involved in the restoration efforts


A key component of the CBEMR process is understanding and addressing the underlying ecological necessities of each individual area – fixing the underlying reasons for why mangroves haven’t naturally regenerated in the first place


Our experts offer extended training workshops that integrate and address the needs of multiple stakeholders into the process, creating a network that brings a lasting restorative effort

CBEMR - Why Do We Need It?

CBEMR versus Hand-Planting

Nursery and planting-focused restoration projects have a tendency to utilise only the propagules of species that are easy to handle, such as those from Rhizophora and Bruguiera which limits biodiversity, rather than selecting all the potential species that are appropriate for the site. Understanding which species are suitable for an individual site takes experience, and knowledge of mangrove ecology, biology and the various gradients on a site such as inundation, salinity and wave energy. Furthermore, hand planting tends to ignore variations in soil elevation as planters attempt to keep propagules in straight lines. MAP suggests that as nature does not grow in straight lines, there is no need to plant mangroves like this – planting in lines and even spacing is a terrestrial production forestry approach. Ignoring the changes of topography and undulations of the site because of rigid line planting risks planting in channels or depressions, which are or will become the vital hydrological channels of a natural mangrove.   

Ecology, Biodiversity, Economics

MAP’s CBEMR process encourages mangrove workers to make a detailed examination of local hydrology both on the restoration site and adjoining, to ensure that tidal flushing is working well. (Referring to the hydrology within a nearby natural mangrove will help guide decision making.) Good hydrology is vital for a healthy functioning mangrove and the provision of the full suite of ecosystem services. It is also key to natural regeneration as the flushing brings in all the available seeds and propagules and puts them in the appropriate place, unlike single-species planting which only produces mono-culture plantations. This natural regeneration avoids the costs of building and running an expensive nursery and planting out seedlings. Hence, where necessary, hydrology should be improved by digging and then let nature do the rest.

A before and after depiction of an area restored using the CBEMR method.
Oftentimes addressing the underlying ecological stressors involves adjusting the hydrology of an area – including by digging channels to improve water flow.

Possible issues with hand-planting

What is CBEMR?

Community-Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration (CBEMR) is a holistic, multi-stage approach, that includes local stakeholders and other groups from the outset. These might include local or international NGOs, Environment or Forest Department staff, local government units and other relevant and interested groups. The MAP team engages in extensive discussions before the training to ensure the workshop is tailored to the needs of participants involved and the local mangrove conditions. Pertinent areas of mangrove ecology, biology and social science are included to combat specific challenges such as very high salinity, or over-harvesting of mangrove wood.

CBEMR starts with a detailed investigation of the proposed site to understand the reasons for previous mangrove losses and why mangroves are not naturally regenerating. Mangrove teams need to understand the biophysical parameters of the site, the ecology of the species present or expected, local hydrology and topography, and other features that might affect mangrove establishment. There also needs to be an investigation of the social factors that might inhibit mangrove regeneration including land tenure, site usage, site history, what restoration attempts have been tried already, and other relevant socio-economic factors such as livelihoods that impact on mangroves. This research, combined with a study of a nearby natural healthy mangrove, will reveal what has changed on site and what needs to be done in order to restore normal mangrove conditions. Discussion and agreement within a village about project objectives, who does the work and equitable benefit sharing, are greatly aided by mapping of the site and frequent public engagement to discuss proposed activities. Implementation can therefore take many forms, from digging to improve site hydrology, to agreements to divert more fresh water into a site, or community mangrove management rules about harvesting of mangroves. The work and social agreements need monitoring beyond 3-5 years to ensure the interventions worked and social agreements are being adhered to. If interventions failed to work the first time, this iterative process encourages further study and work to ensure successful outcomes.  The process will also hopefully demonstrate that local communities must preserve the mangroves they have, protect them, and manage them sustainably in order to secure a sustainable future for themselves.

The use of CBEMR leads both to more successful restoration efforts, as well as the regeneration of a more natural forest, and proper integration of local communities and necessary stakeholders into a conservation area. This provides benefits ranging from increased biodiversity, increased resilience to disease and climate change, more protection for coastlines, and more sustainable, long-lasting restoration efforts.

Training Services

Training Services

How MAP can help your organization implement CBEMR techniques
Demonstration Sites

Demonstration Sites

using CBEMR method

Locations of CBEMR trainings & restorations around the globe. Red = Training;  Green = Training & Restoration

CBEMR General ( copy) Placeholder
CBEMR General ( copy)

Mangrove Action Project has implemented both CBEMR projects and trainings in various countries around the world, demonstrating an effective and sustainable approach to mangrove forest restoration.

MAP has actively rehabilitated mangroves in Thailand and Indonesia, as part of post-tsunami recovery, while being involved in consulting on shoreline and mangrove restoration projects elsewhere. MAP has completed EMR training workshops in Cambodia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Myanmar, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Thailand, and plans to additional workshops where there is interest. MAP also facilitates a CBEMR e-group with over 280 members worldwide sharing information and experience on more effective ways to rehabilitate mangroves. Through all of its work, MAP also raises awareness among those participating as to the importance of mangrove forests, whether participants are policy makers, local citizens, or NGOs.

Join CBEMR Group

Are you interested in bringing a training to your restoration project?

Click the link adjacent to read more about the trainings, or to get in touch with our team:

Read more about the CBEMR process:

The Mangrove Action Project (MAP) has adopted ‘Ecological Mangrove Restoration’ (EMR) as developed by Robin Lewis of Florida. Robin successfully used the method to restore mangroves for over 30 years, and there have been a number of scientific papers written to support the technique which uses natural mangrove as a model or reference site.