Understanding the ethnobiological importance of mangroves to coastal communities: A case study from Southern and North-western Sri Lanka

T.W.G.F. Mafaziya Nijamdeen*, Ngendahimana Ephrem, Jean Hugé, Sunanda Kodikara Arachchilage, Farid Dahdouh-Guebas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Ethnobiological knowledge is an important part of people's capacity to manage, conserve, and improve the governance of mangrove ecosystems. This paper assesses the ethnobiological importance of mangroves to coastal communities adjacent to seven mangrove forests in Southern and North-western Sri Lanka. 197 households were interviewed, and respondents identified various mangrove ecosystem goods and services. Fruit juice produced from Sonneratia spp. and salads made with Acrostichum aureum L. young leaves constitutes valuable edible products in both regions. Rhizophora mucronata Lamk. and Lumnitzera racemosa Willd., were employed as alternative sources of fuel. Other uses of mangroves include wood for construction, chemical, and medicinal products. However, the usage extent was significantly higher in the Southern province (87.6%) compared to the North-western province (51%). Five indices were developed to understand the ethnobiological knowledge of respondents (Mangrove Use Index, Perception Index, Regulation Awareness Index, and Knowledge Index, Mangrove Dynamics Index). Except for the Mangrove Use Index, the rest of the indices were significantly different between the provinces. Communities with higher mangrove knowledge showed lesser usage. Respondents had negative attitudes towards the regulations that limit/did not allow the community to enter mangrove forests. Community participation, ethnobiological importance, and perspectives regarding how the community wants to manage mangrove forests should be taken into account to avoid conflicts in the future. Considering local perceptions and translating them into mangrove management regulations can be effective in guiding sustainable mangrove management in Sri Lanka as well as in other countries in the world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105391
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalMarine Policy
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • ecosystem services
  • ethnobiology
  • mangrove
  • mangrove use
  • sri lanka
  • Conservation
  • Forest management
  • Local ecological knowledge
  • Ecosystem service
  • Co-management


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