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Approaches for understanding and embedding stakeholder realities in mangrove rehabilitation processes in Southeast Asia: lessons learnt from Mahakam Delta, East Kalimantan


  • Neil Powell

    (The Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Maria Osbeck

    (The Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden)


Using a soft systems narrative, this paper examines the implementation process growing out of a policy environment intended to promote the rehabilitation of mangrove ecosystems. The analysis is based on research conducted 2007-09 in the Mahakam Delta in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The rich and diverse natural resource base of the area has turned East Kalimantan into one of the wealthiest areas in Indonesia. The case from Mahakam reveals that there is no stakeholder consensus in terms of problem definitions and management priorities of the coastal delta area. Further, there are no institutional bodies or 'guardians' responsible for monitoring and facilitating the long-term sustainability of mangrove systems. There are also significant power imbalances in the system, not only between stakeholders, but also between the discourses of conservation and production. In order to ensure the long-term, sustainable governance of mangrove systems, these institutional and geopolitical issues will need to be addressed and adapted accordingly. Through a structured systemic inquiry, this analysis has explored the problem situation related to the sustainability of mangrove systems for coastal environments and people. The research shows the complexity in managing dynamic coastal systems subjected to rapid human induced biophysical changes exacerbated by a non-conducive policy environment aggravating the impact on the ground. The absence of this guardian implies that feedback and institutional learning is not inherent, making constructive adaptation of governance and management arrangements in this context unlikely. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Powell & Maria Osbeck, 2010. "Approaches for understanding and embedding stakeholder realities in mangrove rehabilitation processes in Southeast Asia: lessons learnt from Mahakam Delta, East Kalimantan," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 260-270.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:18:y:2010:i:5:p:260-270
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.477

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