Afonso, F., Félix, P.M., Chainho, P., Heumüller, J.A., de Lima, R.F., Ribeiro, F & Brito, A.C. (2022) Community perceptions about mangrove ecosystem services and threats.Regional Studies in Marine Science, 49, 102114. DOI:10.1016/j.rsma.2021.102114 (IF2021 2,166; Q3 Marine & Freshwater Biology)
The Ecosystem Service Framework discloses the ecosystem’s benefits to society and provides support to preserve threatened systems while considering the economic and social dimensions of the communities more dependent on its resources. Mangroves provide important and valuable goods and services to communities, at different spatial and temporal scales. Nevertheless, over-exploitation of these resources can generate poverty traps, where rural households can no longer use the ecosystem as a source of food security or income. This study uses three communities that live in surrounding areas of mangroves from São Tomé Island (Diogo Nunes, Angolares, and Malanza) as a case study. The main aim was to evaluate locals’ perspectives about ecosystem use, threats, and conservation. Questionnaires were conducted among local populations and provided valuable information to identify the major beneficiaries of mangrove resources. These results also indicated that the services and threats identified locally are different from those identified in the literature. The importance of considering the impact of local values and traditions in the use of ecosystem resources was also highlighted by the obtained results since São Tomé residents do not acknowledge the existence of services that do not bring a direct benefit. The absence of awareness about mangroves and their threats can cause severe damages to the ecosystem’s health, requiring the implementation of specific awareness-raising policies among populations that interact with mangrove ecosystems.