A social network analysis of mangrove management stakeholders in Sri Lanka's Northern Province

Thanne WGF Mafaziya Nijamdeen*, J.J.A. Hugé, Hajaniaina A. Ratsimbazafy, Sunanda Kodikara Arachchilage, Farid Dahdouh-Guebas

*Corresponding author for this work

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The sustainable management of complex social-ecological systems (SES) typically requires coordination and collaboration between various groups of stakeholders. Yet, research on collaborative stakeholder networks and their linkages with sustainable mangrove management strategies is lacking in Sri Lanka. This study presents a social network analysis (SNA) of mangrove management stakeholders and their perceptions of both existing and preferred collaborative relationships (or ties) between stakeholder groups, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It further illustrates how SNA can be used to identify stakeholder collaboration and their potential role(s) in mangrove management. The perspectives of all key stakeholders have an impact on how mangroves need to be managed. Therefore, it is crucial to identify and meet with all key stakeholders in the early stages of management processes to understand their needs and constraints. Our findings indicate that the government departments mandated to conserve mangroves are not only formally appointed key stakeholders but are also perceived as central by others. Communication barriers, lack of awareness regarding the importance of mangroves, and shortages in staff and resources for conservation were major constraints to the existing mangrove management network. We highlight the potential of other stakeholders (i.e., non-mandated government stakeholders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private organizations) in improving and influencing the social network in order to increase the diffusion of information. Despite existing resource extraction activities, private organizations were less represented in the mangrove management network of our study. After considering stakeholders’ expectations and requirements, we suggest the inclusion of a bridging organization such as an “Environment Network Unit” or the establishment of bridging entities in the universities and research institutes. We also recommend certain government organizations (i.e., Central Environmental Authority) to take up the role of bridging. This may help to facilitate the incorporation of relatively marginalized stakeholders in an effort to foster sustainable mangrove management in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106308
JournalOcean & Coastal Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • Collaborative governance
  • Mangrove management
  • Sri Lanka
  • decision making
  • power
  • social network analysis
  • Decision-making
  • Power distribution
  • Co-management
  • Governance Perspectives


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