Public Perceptions of Mangrove Forests Matter for Their Conservation

Farid Dahdouh-Guebas, Gordon N. Ajonina, A. Aldrie Amir, Dominic A. Andradi-Brown, Irfan Aziz, Thorsten Balke, Edward B. Barbier, Stefano Cannicci, Simon M. Cragg, Marília Cunha-Lignon, David J. Curnick, Carlos M. Duarte, Norman C. Duke, Charlie Endsor, Sara Fratini, Ilka C. Feller, François Fromard, Jean Hugé, Mark Huxham, James G. KairoTadashi Kajita, Kandasamy Kathiresan, Nico Koedam, Shing Yip Lee, Hsing-juh Lin, Jock R. Mackenzie, Mwita M. Mangora, Cyril Marchand, Tarik Meziane, Todd E. Minchinton, Nathalie Pettorelli, Jaime Polanía, Gianluca Polgar, Meenakshi Poti, Jurgenne Primavera, Alfredo Quarto, Stefanie M. Rog, Behara Satyanarayana, Yara Schaeffer-Novelli, Mark Spalding, Tom Van der stocken, Dominic Wodehouse, Jean W. H. Yong, Martin Zimmer, Daniel A. Friess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Iconic species and landscapes attract public attention to help reverse the degradation of ecosystems and their biodiversity (Thompson and Rog, 2019); sharing their images on social media can act as a powerful way to influence perceptions and drive positive actions by the public (Wu et al., 2018). Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been used to great effect to communicate the urgency required to halt and reverse tropical forest loss (Lamb et al., 2005) and the plight of coral reefs (Curnock et al., 2019). Ecosystems such as seagrass meadows, mudflats, and mangrove forests receive substantially less media exposure (Duarte et al., 2008). Yet these under-recognized ecosystems are hugely important for local and global societies, providing benefits such as shoreline protection (Barbier, 2016), fisheries (Carrasquilla-Henao and Juanes, 2017), carbon capture and storage (Duarte et al., 2013), alongside supporting rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity (Sievers et al., 2019; Thompson and Rog, 2019) (Figure 1). Apart from these important ecosystem functions, goods and services, mangrove forests are home to a huge diversity of organisms with ecologically and evolutionarily unique adaptations to life in the intertidal zone, including vivipary and salt tolerance in trees, air-breathing in crabs and amphibious behavior in fish (mudskippers); this makes mangrove forests a dynamic and fascinating evolutionary laboratory. Despite our improved understanding of the importance of mangrove forests and their ecosystem services, negative perceptions of these wetlands are still common. We highlight the dangers of recurrent public misperceptions about mangroves and how they can be countered. The authors represent a variety of stakeholders involved in the research and communication of mangrove forests through academia, government agencies and non-governmental organizations involved in conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number603651
Number of pages5
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020


  • communication
  • ecosystem disservice
  • ecosystem service
  • mangrove
  • social media


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