Ivan Scales

Molluscs in a Globalising World: Experiences From the Mangrove Forests of Southwestern Madagascar

Molluscs play an important role in the livelihoods of many coastal communities in the tropics. They provide a wide range of natural resources, from food to building materials. In this paper I explore how emerging markets, commodity chains, and resource uses are creating new opportunities but also placing novel stresses on species and ecosystems. I explore how livelihoods in a remote area of southwest Madagascar are being transformed by new global commodity chains in marine products, including molluscs such as octopus, thereby placing increased pressure on mangrove ecosystems. I focus on the production of ‘sokay’, a seashell based lime render produced in mangrove wood kilns and used to improve the durability of houses. Drawing on concepts from political ecology I argue that resource management policies must pay closer attention to the multi-scalar socio-ecological links between ecosystems, species, and people.

Keywords: Madagascar, seashells, livelihoods, mangroves, globalisation.

Figure: A house in southwestern Madagascar rendered with sokay (a lime render made from sea shells) (© Ivan Scales).