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Property Rights in Mangroves: a Case Study of the Mahakam Delta, East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Mangroves represent an important source of livelihood for many poor people across the world. However, insufficient policy responses relating to mangrove conservation,combined with the lack of clearly defined property rights contribute extensively to the conversion of mangroves to alternative uses, in particular shrimp aquaculture.

On the basis of relevant theoretical perspectives on property rights, this Master’s thesis analyses various formal and informal institutions and existing governance mechanisms that determine natural resources management in the Mahakam delta, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

By employing a qualitative participatory research approach the case study explores how different institutions in Indonesia shape the local property rights regime in mangroves. The results show that the interplay between formal and informal institutions involved in defining property rights, along with the lack of coordination among responsible government agencies, has resulted in the clearing of one of the largest Nypah forests in the world for shrimp pond construction within three decades.

Moreover, the study suggests that the current problem of mangrove destruction will not be solved merely by declaring the Mahakam delta as a protected area or by assigning full ownership rights to the local people. On the contrary, the study suggests that the coordination and enforcement mechanisms should be enhanced in such ways that they simultaneously address both local peoples’ needs as well as ecosystem integrity.
Source: Stockholm University
Author: Abdul Baten, Mohammed

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