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Muddied Waters: Perceptions and Attitudes towards Mangroves and Their Removal in New Zealand

School of Science, Institute for Applied Ecology, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
New Zealand Tourism Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2631;
Received: 10 February 2019 / Revised: 4 April 2019 / Accepted: 28 April 2019 / Published: 7 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
Seaward expansion of New Zealand’s mangrove Avicennia marina (subsp.) australasica in estuaries has led to disparity in opinion over their social-ecological value. This study investigated existing stakeholders and interested parties’ perceptions and attitudes towards mangroves, focusing on four sites in Auckland. A mixed methods design was used consisting of semi-structured interviews, ratings of importance of mangrove ecosystem services and issues and Q-sorts on mangrove social-ecological statements. 29 participants were interviewed in person. Results revealed a disparity in perceptions and attitudes towards mangroves. Community Groups displayed strongly negative opinions towards mangrove preservation and Conservation Organisations expressed a strongly positive stance. The occupation of participants was a significant factor in the ratings. Overall, sediment and nutrient retention were rated as the most important ecosystem services. The desire for reversion of estuaries to a “pre-mangrove” state is the greatest issue affecting mangroves. Q-analysis revealed loading of participants onto two factors representing (1) a pro-preservation attitude towards mangrove and (2) a neutral view. Managing sediment loads and nutrient run-off in the wider catchment were highlighted as ways to reduce mangrove expansion. Improving water quality and the health of the harbour was of utmost priority to kaitiaki (Māori guardians of the environment). This study provides critical insights into the management of mangroves as social-ecological systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: perceptions; attitudes; mangroves; expansion; preservation; mixed methods perceptions; attitudes; mangroves; expansion; preservation; mixed methods
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Dencer-Brown, A.M.; Alfaro, A.C.; Milne, S. Muddied Waters: Perceptions and Attitudes towards Mangroves and Their Removal in New Zealand. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2631.

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