Around 1990, when in other countries mangrove protection took off, massive conversion of mangrove forest into shrimp ponds started in the Mahakam delta. To identify constraints to and options for sustainable management we analysed institutions and constraints with stakeholders. In 3 sites we used participatory tools and a complementary survey to assess the livelihood framework. Since 1970, ponds for shrimp farming gradually replaced 75% of mangrove forested area. After 2004, recovery of mangrove took off, as, mainly due to low shrimp yields, ponds were abandoned. In 2008, 54% of the delta was dedicated to ponds for shrimp production. Around 80% of livelihood activities of pond-farmers, pond caretakers, and fishermen was related to mangroves. The involvement of men and women in these activities varied between sites and types. Poor households depended more on mangroves. Most activities resulted in seasonal income peaks; only a few activities resulted in a full daily livelihood. Ponds, on the other hand, provide 50% of households’ livelihood, but this remains vulnerable in the context of the risky shrimp production. Skewed land holding, unequal sharing of benefits, competing claims and vested interests of stakeholders pose a great challenge to a transition to a more sustainable use of the mangrove area. In particular, ponds located on peat soils are non-sustainable and would require full restoration into mangrove; ponds on other soils could best be transformed into a mixed mangrove-pond system using a ‘green-water’ technology.
- mekong delta