Flora index
Fauna index
guide to the mangroves of singapore
Economic value of mangroves
Peter K L Ng and N Sivasothi (editors)

Mangroves have always been economically important to man and have provided us with food and all manner of products for thousands of years. Recently, however, many planners and bureaucrats have tended to view mangroves as eyesores and 'waste-land'. As a result, partially in response to 'market forces' and the pressures of economics, modern conservation efforts have tended to increasingly emphasise their economic value to man.

The economic value of anything is the amount of money people are willing to pay for it. Economic values can be divided into two types—direct and indirect.

Direct value refers to harvestable products for personal use or for sale in local and international markets.

Indirect value refers to services or uses which do not use up the resource. This includes environmental services provided by biological communities not consumed through use (non-consumptive use value), potential uses or services from previously untapped species (option value), and the amount of money people are willing to contribute to ensure the continuing existence of a natural resource (existence value).

aerial view of fishing community next to mangrove
Kampung Mandai Besar,
a fishing community off
Sungei Mandai Besar in the late 1980's
When viewed this way, mangroves have great economic value. In Singapore, even consumptive use value is available every time a weekend fishing enthusiast ventures near a mangrove to catch fish or prawns. Poachers who sneak into Sungei Buloh Nature Park to catch monitor lizards, fish or prawns for their own consumption, also demonstrate this value.

In the region, consumptive use value is demonstrated by inhabitants, in the harvesting of wood for construction or repair of houses, firewood or charcoal, seafood, leaves or seeds of the nipah, etc. Camels, goats, sheep and water buffalo are fed leaves of mangroves in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Persian Gulf to Red Sea and northern Australia. Fish poisons based on the saponins released from species like Aegiceras are also exploited by local fishermen.
close-up of hibiscus leaves
The leaves of the Sea Hibiscus
Hibiscus tiliaceus, are use
to feed cattle in Southeast Asia

The viviparous seedlings of Avicennia and Bruguiera species are also boiled and eaten, presumably in times of famine. Many mangrove species are exploited for their medicinal usage. Some of these may be seen from the species descriptions given in this website.
What is mangrove?

The Ecosystem


Indirect uses
Potential uses

About Mangroves
in Singapore

Mangroves to visit
From "A Guide to Mangroves of Singapore", Peter K. L. Ng and N. Sivasothi (editors)
Volume 1: The Ecosystem and Plant Diversity and Volume 2: Animal Diversity
Authors: Kelvin K. P. Lim, Dennis H. Murphy, T. Morgany, N. Sivasothi, Peter K. L. Ng,
B. C. Soong, Hugh T. W. Tan, K. S. Tan & T. K. Tan
BP Guide to Nature Series published by the Singapore Science Centre, sponsored by British Petroleum
2001 Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, The National University of Singapore & The Singapore Science Centre