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Forests 2016, 7(9), 183; doi:10.3390/f7090183

Ecosystem Services and Disservices of Mangrove Forests: Insights from Historical Colonial Observations

Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, 1 Arts Link, Singapore 117570, Singapore
Academic Editors: Bradley B. Walters and Eric J. Jokela
Received: 4 July 2016 / Revised: 4 August 2016 / Accepted: 17 August 2016 / Published: 24 August 2016
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Ecosystem services are now strongly applied to mangrove forests, though they are not a new way of viewing mangrove-people interactions; the benefits provided by such habitats, and the negative interactions (ecosystem disservices) between mangroves and people have guided perceptions of mangroves for centuries. This study quantified the ecosystem services and disservices of mangroves as written by colonial explorers from 1823–1883 through a literature survey of 96 expedition reports and studies. Ecosystem disservices were most commonly discussed (60%), with settlers considering mangroves as reservoirs of diseases such as malaria, with wide-ranging implications, such as the global drainage of wetlands in the 19th–20th centuries. Multiple ecosystem services were discussed, especially provisioning services for export, representing colonial views of new lands as ripe for economic use. Interestingly, regulating services of mangroves such as erosion control and sediment accretion that are a focus of much contemporary research were recognized as early as 1865. This study shows that the ecosystem service paradigm has a long history in mangroves. We should not underestimate mangrove ecosystem disservices, and how contemporary perceptions of mangroves may be influenced by such historical viewpoints. Archival materials provide a rich resource to study human-environment interactions, and how they change through time. View Full-Text
Keywords: cultural services; disease; dis-service; forest; malaria; provisioning services; wetland cultural services; disease; dis-service; forest; malaria; provisioning services; wetland

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Friess, D.A. Ecosystem Services and Disservices of Mangrove Forests: Insights from Historical Colonial Observations. Forests 2016, 7, 183.

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