As Good as (G)Old? Comparing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of Restored and Natural Mangrove Forests in the Wallacea Region (CoReNat)

Lead Research Organisation: Edinburgh Napier University
Department Name: School of Applied Science


Mangrove forests are unique intertidal ecosystems connecting the land- and seascape. They provide habitat to terrestrial and marine species, sustain the livelihoods of millions of mostly poor people globally, and are considered as high priority habitats in climate change mitigation strategies, due to their extraordinary carbon sink capacity. Mangroves forests are degraded globally, with land use change being the single most serious threat at present. Successful restoration/rehabilitation of diverse, functional, resource-rich and resilient mangrove forests is a major development challenge in many countries, including Indonesia. The so called Blue Revolution - the conversion of mangroves to (unsustainable) aquaculture ponds in the 80s and 90s - is one major reason why the country has lost 40% of its mangroves over the last three decades. This has caused manifold problems for people's lives. Halting and reversing Indonesia's loss of mangrove natural assets is key to improve coastal livelihoods and reduce poverty. The Indonesian government currently spends around $13 million a year for planting mangroves on degraded areas. Most planting projects in Indonesia and elsewhere in the world have failed, and it is mostly understood why. There are however numerous critical information gaps in understanding how successful the "successful" projects are in regards to recreating diverse and functional self-organising and self-maintaining systems.

CoReNat will investigate outcomes of established community-based mangrove restoration/ rehabilitation (R/R) projects in the heart of Wallacea - North-Sulawesi - Indonesia, to unravel whether these mangroves are "As good as (G)Old?". The overall project aims are to assess whether mangrove ecosystem biodiversity, functions, resilience and service provision have been restored, and to make evidence-based recommendations for maximizing the success of future R/R efforts in Wallacea (and beyond). Combining UK and Indonesian experience, expertise and scientific excellence, CoReNat will provide evidence-based recommendations to relevant stakeholder to guide future ecological R/R efforts.

CoReNat takes a novel interdisciplinary approach to deliver a comprehensive ecosystem evaluation of established restored/rehabilitated and adjacent natural (reference) mangroves, bringing together paleoecology, geoscience, botany, zoology, environmental microbiology, ecological network analysis combined with next generation sequencing, toxicology and bioexploration.

CoReNat will
- provide new data on the region's (mangrove-associated) biodiversity and species interactions, for conserved as well as for rehabilitated/restored mangrove forests
- apply and generate innovative new tools for the field of mangrove restoration
- provide data that will allow a better understanding of the biodiversity, functioning and services of mono-specific versus multi-specific replanted mangroves
- support the provision of solutions to mangrove conservation, restoration/ rehabilitation and management
- explore current local use of conserved and restored mangroves, as well as potential new avenues for business and innovation, to help balance Indonesia's need for conservation with economic development

Planned Impact

Ultimate beneficiaries are coastal people reliant on mangrove ecosystem services. CoReNat will provide the most comprehensive ecosystemic evaluation of restored/rehabilitated (R/R) mangroves in Indonesia (and globally) to date. Combining Indonesian-UK expertise we will deliver evidence-based recommendations for maximizing the success of future R/R efforts. We will generate novel data on heavy metal accumulation in sediment and plant tissues in North-Sulawesi, and inform on their capacity of biofiltering these pollutants in the coastal zone. We also hope to discover novel potentially useful mangrove derived products. Hence, we anticipate that project outcomes will be highly relevant and beneficial for a wide range of stakeholders including:
1.1 Indonesian Government
Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, National Focal Point to the Climate Change Convention, North Sulawesi Government
1.2 Indonesian multi-stakeholder Regional Mangrove Management Working Group (KKMD)
Mandate to develop scientific evidence based best mangrove management practice
1.3 National & international civil society organisations
Blue Forests, Mangrove Action Project, Mangroves for the Future
1.4 International scientific community, incl.
Blue Carbon Initiative, International Partnership for Blue Carbon, Global Mangrove Alliance, IUCN Mangrove Specialist Group
1.5 Industry & private sector
Mining and aquaculture companies; biotechnology industries
1.6 General public

2.1 Support for National Strategy of Mangrove Ecosystem Management
CoReNat data will support Indonesia's commitment to cross-sectoral implementation of the National Strategy. We will deliver a "Stakeholder Recommendation Report" which will be disseminated through the bilateral team's substantial network. This includes contacts on government level (e.g. provided by Indonesian PI who has served two years as the Deputy Minister of the Environment). This is to ensure the coordination across government agencies in implementing the Mangrove Strategic Plan. We also have direct contacts to KKMD and on grassroot level (e.g. we have partnered with the Indonesian NGO Blue Forests actively involved in mangrove restoration). We will also build new links with other mangrove conservation/ restoration organizations' relevant partners throughout the project. The technical recommendations given in the report will be of direct relevance for the design and implementation for future related mangrove R/R projects in Indonesia (and beyond), feeding into the design of a new concept of sustainable mangrove management in Indonesia through KKMD
2.2 Provision of effective Rapid Assessment Best Practice Protocol (RABPP) for evaluating R/R projects
Monitoring and evaluating present and future R/R projects will benefit from the new state of the art tool co-developed by the team with representatives from stakeholders across different levels, including government representatives, NGOs and local communities involved in ecological mangrove restoration. Our inclusive participatory approach will ensure the tool's appropriateness, applicability and wide us
2.3 Provision of reliable data on mangrove carbon storage and emission factors from natural and R/R mangroves
Needed by the government for consideration of inclusion of "blue carbon" in the nationally determined contributions (NDC) as part of its commitment under the Paris Agreement
2.4 Identification of mangrove species particularly tolerant to heavy metal pollution
To guide mangrove rehabilitation targeted to maximize biofiltration, through planting heavy metal (HM) tolerant species in HM polluted areas to reduce HM concentrations in rivers and the sea
2.5 Potentially: Provision of protocols for industrial exploitation of novel mangrove fungi-derived products
We would seek to partner with industry and funders to explore new business models to further economic development


10 25 50
Description To date, mangrove restoration success has typically been evaluated by measuring number of trees or area forested as the main metric, whilst ignoring other biotic components important for the ecological functioning of the re-establishing ecosystems, such as macrofaunal and micro-eukaryotic communities. Integrating these communities into a holistic assessment of the ecological status of restored forests requires suitable indicators. CoReNat is working to identify and develop such indicators. Based upon the results achieved so far (i.e. changes in faunal diversity and community composition are driven by the type of restoration practice/planted tree) we advocate factoring eukaryotic communities and their functional roles into the restoration planning process when the aim is to restore diverse and multifunctional mangroves, and using integrated multi-taxonomical assessments when evaluating the ecological status and ecosystem functionality of restored forests.
Exploitation Route Once we have a more complete portefolio of research results and evidence, we will realize stakeholder workshops for knowledge exchange and dissemination of the results, to influence and improve mangrove restoration processes in Indonesia. For example, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), who has the national mandate for the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of mangrove restoration, has committed to restore 1800ha of mangroves along the Indonesia coast between 2020-2024, including in Sulawesi, the region where the CoReNat project is conducting the research. We have engaged with MMAF who have expressed interest in the results of the CoReNat project and stakeholder recommendation reports planned once all research results have been obtained. We have also engaged already with several NGO's involved with community-based mangrove restoration.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description Mangrove restoration practioneers have been trained by project members in mangrove restoration techniques.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal

Description Action Plan for Securing the Future of the Red Sea Ecosystems' to help implement Saudi's Vision 2030, submitted to the Ministry of the Environment, The Red Sea Authority and other stakeholders (Participation CoReNat UK PI Diele)
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact A first outcome of the Action Plan is that stakeholders such as e.g. the 'Red Sea Development Company' adopted some of the advice while creatimg an environmentally and economically sustainable development of new tourist developments, in areas adjacent to mangroves.
Description Planning of Reserve Conservation Area of Panjang Island, Jepara Regency, Central Java: A recommendation for the governor of Central Java (Participation CoReNat Indonesia PI - Trianto)
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact The consultation planning event attended by Indonesian PI Agus Trianto resulted in the implementation of a new Conservation Strategy for Panjang Island by the Marine and Fisheries Service, Central Java. the conservation plan includes the mangrove environment on the island, taking on board advice of Dr Trianto.
Description British Ornithologists' Union, Research Grant
Amount £1,650 (GBP)
Organisation British Ornithologists' Union 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 12/2021
Description Newcastle University Vacation Scholarship
Amount £1,200 (GBP)
Organisation Newcastle University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2019 
End 08/2019
Title CoReNat Project Database 
Description A CoReNat database that integrates the data (Fauna, Flora, abiotic, geochemistry, pollutants) generated by the different project work packages for forthcoming multivariate analyses. Data of forthcoming second field trip to be added still. Resource shared by CoReNat team. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Database accessible to all CoReNat partners, fostering interdisciplinary analyses and forthcoming production of joint publications and stakeholder reports. 
Description ENU-KAUST CoReNat collaboration 
Organisation King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)
Country Saudi Arabia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In agreement with the Indonesian partner, we provide DNA from Indonesian sediment samples to KAUST partner.
Collaborator Contribution KAUST partner conducts in-kind sequencing of sediment DNA samples.
Impact Collaboration just started.
Start Year 2021
Description CoReNat Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Blog to disseminate project research activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Engagement to halt plans for mangrove degradation in N-Sulawesi 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact At one of the projects study sites in North Sulawesi, where local communities restored mangroves 20 years ago in abandoned shrimp pond areas, an aquaculture industry recently announced plans to cut down the restored mangroves again to re-establish shrimp ponds. Indonesian project Co-I Rignolda Djamaluddin engaged with local people to combat these plans to help conserve the mangroves, organized and attended village meetings and informed higher level stakeholders and regulatory bodies. Due to the local opposition, the plans for reinstalling shrimp aquaculture (and resulting mangrove degradation and income losses of local fishers) have not been realized so far.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020,2021
Description Engaging with stakeholders 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In 2020 we contacted a range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders involved with mangrove restoration in Indonesia to scope their interest for potential project outcomes of the CoReNat project and collaboration. The partners contacted included BAPPEDA Central Sulawesi (Development Planning Agency at Sub-National Level), the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries - Directorate General of Marine Spatial Management, the NGO KIARA (People's coalition for Fisheries Justice) and KOMANGJO Foundation (involved with creating opportunities for diversifying income for fishing communities). We received expression of interest from all contacted parties and will invite them to our project stakeholder workshops to exchange knowledge, discuss important issues in mangrove restoration and co-develop new tools for the optimization of ecological mangrove restoration and the evaluation of mangrove restoration success.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
Description Lecture at School 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Invited lecture on mangrove ecology, economic importance and the need for mangrove conservation and restoration/rehabilitation by UK CoReNat postdoctoral Fellow Fusi. The lecture was given to students and teachers of Alexa Primary School near Manado, Indonesia (Pineleng II, Pineleng, Minahasa Regency, North Sulawesi).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Meeting with Development Agency at Sub-National Level 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Indonesian Project Co-I Aiyen Tjoa (Tadulako University) met with representatives from BAPPEDA Central Sulawesi (Development Planning Agency at Sub-National Level) to present the CoReNat project and discuss mangrove conservation and restoration activities planned by the local government in Palu Bay, an area severely affected by an earthquake/tsunami in 2018. BAPPEDA expressed interest in collaborating with and receiving advice from the CoReNat team for mangrove restoration planned in the area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Presentation at Bunaken National Park Office, Manado, Indonesia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An invited presentation with subsequent discussion was given to 10 employees at the Bunaken National Park Central Office in Manado, Indonesia, by CoReNat postdoctoral fellows Fusi and O'Connell. The audience included the directorate and park rangers. The purpose was to inform them on the aims of the CoReNat project, on immediate activities carried out by the project team, and on potential benefits of the work for the conservation and management of the mangrove forests in the Bunaken National Park. A further aim was to hear the views of the National Park on the project and their suggestions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Press release to change public/academic view on mangrove conservation sucesses 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Press release for an article published by international team of mangrove experts to communicate that mangrove loss rates have reduced by almost an order of magnitude between the late 20th and early 21st century -- from what was previously estimated at one to three per cent per year, to about 0.3 to 0.6 per cent per year (thanks in large part to successful mangrove conservation efforts). The purpose of the article/press release was to change the public view dominated by 'doom and gloom' regarding mangroves to 'conservation optimism, for now' to acknowledge recent successes. We also outlined the actions that need to be taken to assure the momentum is maintaining, and to highlight that rather than taking 'mangrove area' as a measure of success, the ecological functioning of rehabilitated mangroves need to be assured (and assessed). We also draw attention to current social/political hurdles in mangrove conservation and rehabilitation. The article is reinforcing the efforts the CoReNat project is currently undertaking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Training in biophysical assessments of post-tsunami mangrove areas 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Indonesian Co-I Rignolda Djamaluddin (Sam Ratulangi University) trained staff members of an Indonesian NGO in methods for biophysical assessment of mangroves. The staff members will be involved in the assessment of mangroves areas inthe post-tsunami Palu- Bay Area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Training in mangrove restoration methods 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Indonesian Co-I Rignolda Djamaluddin (Sam Ratulangi University) trained 30 local people on mangrove ecology and how to establish mangrove nurseries and plantations for a coastal 'mangrove garden'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020