This is a qualitative study on the prevailing coastal conservation approach in the Camotes Islands, Cebu, the Philippines ‒ a proclaimed Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve. Through the lens of ecodevelopment and the new ecological anthropology, this study particularly looks into the sustainability and efficacy of mangrove conservation in the Camotes Islands; and how local political institutions regard the socioeconomic welfare of the local communities that live around it. The main part of this study documents the knowledge, practices, perspectives, experiences, and narratives of key local government actors as embedded in implemented programs, initiatives, ordinances, implementation management strategies, and challenges in conservation. As it presents, the prevailing mangrove conservation in the Camotes Islands is a state-led institutional approach predominated by the scientific ecological values which center on the preservation and rehabilitation of the biophysical aspects of natural resources. This top-down conservation has little regard for the cultural and socioeconomic values of the local people who apparently value mangroves quite differently from the institutionalized values. This study also presents that key local government actors are crucial instruments in negotiating the conflicting values that surround the institutional mangrove conservation. Moreover, although numerous mangrove-related initiatives, programs, and policies have already been implemented in the Camotes Islands, non-compliance among the local people still persist up to this day. In addition, a combination of challenges ‒ such as the unsteady political integrity and unsustainable programs ‒ devitalize mangrove conservation on the ground. Furthermore, this study hopes to illuminate the incongruous chasm that detaches the biophysical aspect of coastal ecosystems from the local communities in the context of conservation. Lastly, this study emphasizes the importance of a holistic and integrated approach to conservation that regards both the biophysical integrity of the natural world and the welfare of humankind as a foundational whole.