People and Mangroves: Biocultural Utilization of Mangrove Forest Ecosystem in Southeast Asia

Dave Buenavista, Hery Purnobasuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Mangroves provide diverse benefits for various coastal communities in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the same region exhibits the highest global rates of mangrove loss. Whilst studies exploring its value as a biocultural refugia remain lacking, the associated biocultural uses of mangroves are likewise under threat. Using the PRISMA approach, 33 studies passed the eligibility and screening process. The majority of biocultural studies were from Indonesia (60%), Malaysia (9%), Philippines (9%), and Thailand (9%) whilst the least were from Myanmar (6%), Vietnam (3%), and Timor-Leste (3%). We identified seven biocultural lenses for Southeast Asian mangroves; food source, cultural and spiritual use, livelihood source, construction materials, fuelwood and charcoal, medicinal use, and fish poison and fishing material. As a biocultural refugia, management of mangroves are intimately intertwined with traditional practices which stemmed from cultural and spiritual importance of mangroves. However, many Asian cultures remain undocumented and understudied. We, therefore, recommend a more culture-sensitive approach in various community-based mangrove conservation projects that respectfully integrate the indigenous and local knowledge systems (ILKS) and practices. Studies relating to the biocultural values, both tangible and intangible benefits of mangroves, should be further explored to promote the sustainable utilization and conservation of the remaining mangroves in Southeast Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-115
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Marine and Island Cultures
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Asia
  • biocultural
  • culture
  • ecosystem services
  • indigenous knowledge
  • mangrove


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