Josa Lukman (The Jakarta Post)
Fri 8 October 2021
Indonesia has around 3.36 million hectares of mangrove ecosystem and the largest mangrove in the world. Of the lot, approximately 1.5 million hectares of Indonesian mangroves are located in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. Unfortunately, around 6 percent of the Papuan mangroves have suffered from ecological degradation, including the Klamana mangrove forest, Sorong, West Papua.
According to Demianus Werbete, the head of the Klamana Forest Farmers’ Group, one of the reasons the mangroves are damaged is that the locals take the surrounding coral.
“People’s livelihoods depend on coral reefs. They know it harms the environment, but since they have to put food on the table, they have no choice but to continue taking the coral, ”he said.
Overexploitation of coral reefs can result in higher waves crashing onto the beach, while the ecosystem can be disrupted as marine biota will migrate to other areas.
Mangrove rehabilitation programs can remedy the problem, which is the case for Klamana. The Mangroves and Peatlands Restoration Agency (BRGM) is currently carrying out a mangrove planting program covering an area of 50 hectares, involving around forty local residents.
“We would like to thank the government for its help in changing the mentality of the inhabitants, as the mangrove forest can become an additional source of income to supplement the local economy,” said Werbete.
Ina Roselina Sikirit, head of the Protected Forest Management Unit (KPHL) II in Sorong, West Papua, said the mangrove rehabilitation program could support the local economy in line with the National Economic Recovery Plans (PEN) during the pandemic.
“We work in synergy by planting mangroves and making crab cages. We have a lot of crabs here, and it’s also sustainable because they live around the roots of the mangrove. At the same time, mangrove forests can also be turned into a tourist spot, where tourists can buy mangrove crabs, ”she said.
The mangroves recovered will not only increase crabs but also fish and shrimp, as mangroves serve as a nursery for these species of marine biota. This will be of great benefit to the community as a source of protein and an additional source of income.
“This allows the locals to stop taking the coral because they will have an additional source of income,” Sikirit said.
BRGM Secretary Ayu Dwi Utari explained that the additional source of income was the long-term goal of the mangrove rehabilitation program.
“Have confidence and believe that if we take care of the mangroves, the marine biota will be improved, which in turn will positively affect the income of the inhabitants. As the President also said, rehabilitating mangroves will also prevent the effects of climate change, ”she concluded.