To promote devolution and participation in natural resource governance, the government of Indonesia encourages the collective management of natural resources through self-governed local communes. It also promotes consensual decision-making over the use and allocation of natural resources at the village, district, and regency level. This approach, when coupled with the commercialization of Indonesia’s natural resources, is believed to encourage social inclusion, economic welfare, and ecological responsiveness. The case of Sinjai’s mangroves suggests that the presence of social institutions can stimulate social sensibility, encourage attachment to the natural landscape, and instigate collective responsibility for protecting the local mangroves. Community initiatives for mangrove planting within the village of Tongke Tongke emerged due to wave intrusion, soil erosion, and material loss. The hope to create new land and own mangrove trees sustained the motivation for land restoration and led to the initiation of the Aku Cinta Indonesia (ACI) mangrove organization. The ACI organization, whose aim is to establish clearly defined property and user rights for safeguarding the cultivators’ hard work, provides community members with pride, identity, and platforms for mangrove conservation. Although the mangrove plots are privately owned by the 117 ACI members, they are also collectively managed and conserved by the multiple resource users across the landscape. In Tongke Tongke, social institutions and local rules came into play and the people committed to protect the mangroves on behalf of the community. These social institutions took the form of kinship ties, collective identity, symbolic reciprocity, social responsibility, and ecological sensibility. The mangroves were not free access, but governed by formal and informal rules to maintain its benefits for the good of the community. The community, through the elders, determined the access and made decisions about management on behalf of them all. Community members acted in a way that benefited the overall good even when they were avowing individual rights. Individuals evolved behaviors that were commensurate with their responsibilities, leading to innovative power structures that were locally sensitive and environmentally appropriate.