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Locals told to develop mangroves to protect coasts

Published on 2 May 2014 Indonesia

The Environment Ministry is encouraging locals in several regions across the country to develop mangroves as part of larger efforts to protect coastal areas and tackle climate change.

The ministry initiated the coast rehabilitation program in 2011 and endorsed it again during the 18th Indonesia Environmental Week.

The exhibition, part of activities to commemorate of World Environment Day on June 5, will be held from May 29 until June 1 in Jakarta.

Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya said the ministry wanted to promote the protection of the coastal ecosystem to sound the alarm over the dangers of climate change.

“The rising of earth’s temperature impacts sea levels. This will affect our coasts and small islands in the archipelago,” Balthasar said in his speech during the announcement of the event on Thursday.

According to the ministry’s statistics, Indonesia owns 30 per cent of world’s best mangroves and coral reefs, with 85 per cent of its coasts contributing to the country’s fishery industry.

The statistics also showed that around 26.5 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was contributed by the coastal areas, while around 60 per cent of Indonesia’s population lived there.

However, Balthasar said that according to 2014 US environmental research, Indonesia ranked 112 out of 178 countries evaluated, showing that the widespread exploitation of natural resources had increased damage and pollution each year.

To tackle the problems, Balthasar said that all of the incoming government’s programs and policies should be environmentally friendly. “We also need to cooperate with the private sector and all groups in society to minimise the effects of climate change,” he added.

Edi Nugroho, head of the recovery division for the ministry, said that currently, mangroves were being grown in some coastal areas, such as in Tanjung Pasir regency in Banten, Pekalongan and Pemalang regencies in Central Java and Langkat regency in North Sumatra.

Edi said that the ministry had assigned mangrove experts to encourage locals to grow and take care of the plants themselves. “We divided the people into clusters or groups. Each group has around 25 members,” he said.

According to Edi, the locals could also process various kinds of mangroves’ fruits and wood products from the cultivation, such as syrups, dodol cookies, crackers and dye for batik cloth.

“Mangroves are good habitats for crabs, so locals also cultivate them,” he added.

Edi said that Langkat’s mangrove forest area had become the largest in the program after successfully expanding 5-7 hectares to 100 hectares.

Source: Eco-Business | 21 April 2014