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Local projects are working to preserve the trees that offer unique coastal protection to villages and the fishing industry.
Up to 40% of Indonesia´s mangrove forests have disappeared, many having been removed to make way for shrimp and fishponds. But after decades of being perceived as a nuisance, the plants are gaining popularity, with fish farmers increasingly recognizing their ability to provide a protective green belt to help avoid coastal erosion. We visited two projects aiming to protect the unique biodiversity of the forests.
Sri Rejeki, a marine scientist with a special interest in pond management and mangroves, is a leading force behind the project Associate Mangrove Aquaculture. Together with her team, she teaches local fish farmers how to create new levees and systems of locks to regulate the flow of water. This facilitates the collection of sediment that allows mangroves to grow naturally.
The project aims to defend nearby villages as well as pond facilities from flooding, thereby protecting the earnings of the fish farmers. Rejeki is convinced that, in cooperation with the local population, mangrove forests will make a big comeback in the country.
Wasito, a former fisherman, started planting mangroves in the Kendal region more than a decade ago when he noticed that coastal erosion was increasing and coastal strips were getting smaller. Through his project, he works with residents and young people to plant mangroves and educate others about the importance of the plant. Since starting the project alone, hundreds have joined him.
A film by Nicole Ris and A.B. Rodhial Falah