Shrimp Farming and Mangrove Loss in Thailand

Shrimp Farming and Mangrove Loss in Thailand

Edited by Edward B. Barbier and Suthawan Sathirathai

Through in-depth case studies of local communities in four distinct coastal areas in Southern Thailand, the authors are able to assess objectively the underlying economic causes, and consequences, of mangrove deforestation due to the expansion of shrimp farms.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Global Mangrove Loss and Economic Development

Edward B. Barbier and Mark Cox

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, development studies, asian development, economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, asian environment, environmental economics, environmental sociology


Edward B. Barbier and Mark Cox INTRODUCTION Mangrove, or ‘mangal’, systems are the sub-tropical and tropical equivalents of the temperate coastal and estuarine salt marsh system. They are essentially forest-based systems that tolerate salt and occupy the intertidal zone between land and sea. Although mangroves are generally found within 25° North and South of the Equator, they can be found in some northern latitudes as high as 32° (Maltby 1986). Mangroves line one-quarter of the world’s tropical and sub-tropical coastlines, covering an area of between 190 000 and 240 000 square kilometers (km2) globally (Kelleher et al. 1995). Approximately 117 countries and territories have mangrove resources within their borders (WCMC 1994). Indonesia has the largest area of mangrove forest estimated at 4.5 million hectares (ha). Nigeria, Australia, Mexico and Malaysia have the next largest areas of mangrove forest, estimated at around 1 to 2 million ha (WRI 1996). Mangroves are very important to many tropical and sub-tropical countries, as they serve to protect coastlines from tidal waves, sea erosion and hurricanes. Furthermore, they are highly productive natural ecosystems, and provide nutrients and shelter for many commercially important aquatic organisms (Deegan et al. 1988; Mitsch and Gosselink 1993; Mooney et al. 1995; WCMC 1994; WRI 1996). Today, mangroves are one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, and are rapidly disappearing in many tropical countries where they were once abundant. For example, Malaysia may have lost 17 per cent of its mangrove area between 1965 and 1985, India as much as 50...