Received: 16 April 2015 / Accepted: 20 November 2015/ Published online: 29 December 2015
Coastal communities with mangroves experienced less typhoon-related housing damage than those living in areas without mangroves.
Communities’ perceptions on the protective role of mangroves are higher in areas with greater area, width and species richness of mangroves.
While awareness on the benefits of mangroves is high, post-Typhoon Haiyan community participation in mangrove rehabilitation effort remained low.
Community awareness, participation, and institutional linkages should be improved to ensure a more sustainable ecosystem rehabilitation and management.
The destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the coastal areas of central Philippines drew greater international attention to the vulnerability of coastal communities to extreme weather and climate events. Mangrove ecosystems enhance coastal resilience by acting as barriers against storms and its impacts. However, given the strength of and damage brought by Typhoon Haiyan, the extent to which mangroves and coastal vegetation can reduce the impacts of waves caused by storm surge has emerged as a salient issue. Drawing on the results of a survey of 870 households; focus group discussions with community members; and interviews with representatives from government agencies, nongovernment organizations, people’s organizations, and communities, the study examines local perceptions on whether or not mangroves played a role in reducing the impacts brought by Typhoon Haiyan in five affected municipalities and cities. It explores how peoples’ perception of the coastal protection function of mangroves differed according to the state of mangroves—in terms of area, width and species richness—validated through vegetation surveys. It also identifies insights on how community participation may help improve coastal rehabilitation and management strategies. In general, the respondents were aware of and appreciated the functions performed by the mangrove forests in protecting their lives and properties from Typhoon Haiyan. However, the participation involvement of local communities in mangrove rehabilitation and management remains low. Community awareness needs to be improved and residents must be encouraged to participate in mangrove rehabilitation and management. This study complements existing studies that show the ability of mangroves and coastal vegetation in attenuating storm surges, the factors that affect the level of protection, the limitations of this function, and the need for further studies that will look more closely into these crucial factors.