Mangroves grow in salty water and thrive in conditions that most timbers cannot tolerate. The Indonesian government has set up a goal of rehabilitating 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) of mangroves by 2024. In 2021, the country had 10.1% of its population living below the national poverty line. Mangrove conservation in Indonesia plays an important role in improving the ecosystem as well as the economy.
Benefits of Mangrove Planting
Mangroves have several environmental benefits. These trees or shrubs provide habitats for different species such as fish, birds, reptiles and mollusks. Mangroves also act as shelters for hatchlings, providing both nutrition and safety.
In 2012, USAID and the Indonesian NGO Yayasan Gajah Sumatera (Yagasu) worked with Rusli, a local fisherman in Paluh Kurau in Langkat, North Sumatra, Indonesia, along with other fishermen. The aim was to create a “community-based mangrove forest restoration effort” and then research the ways coastal villages can derive advantages from mangroves.
Research indicates that mangroves can reduce poverty by generating income. Based on the data from USAID, coastal communities experienced a growth in income by 60% from 2009 to 2016 by means of conserving mangroves. The mangrove planting has led to an increase in the production of other species as well: “[seven] to 12 tons of crab, [three] to [five] tons of shrimp and 500 to 700 tons of fish per week.”
Mangroves provide natural resources to create products that individuals can later sell in the market. Individuals can use the branches and roots of mangroves for the natural coloring of fabrics. With these fabrics, locals can produce dresses and shirts. Furthermore, the fruits from mangroves “can be processed into flour” for baking.
Empowering Indonesian Women
A group of women from Tanjung Rejo and neighboring villages started utilizing natural coloring to create batik fabric and clothing. Yagasu and USAID assisted these women in establishing a business and gave training in “management, design technique and quality control.” Eventually, Yagasu, in partnership with the Livelihoods Fund, flew these women to an exhibition in Paris, France, to display their products. Purchasers for the luxury goods company Hermès liked the women’s colorful designs and signed a contract with the women to provide the company with “high-quality mangrove-colored fabrics.”
In 2014, Hamidah, a housewife in Tanjung Rejo, received USAID training to create batik material and food products using mangroves. She also received business management training to advance her small business and increase her family’s income while helping other community members to increase their business skills too.
MONMANG App for Monitoring Mangroves
The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) developed the MONMANG smartphone app to monitor and track mangroves in Indonesia. Through monitoring via the app, data is collected, which researchers can then use to create a Mangrove Health Index (MHI).
The app can be used to “perform data input and analysis directly from the field site while monitoring mangroves.” In addition, the app “provides structural parameters of mangrove communities, such as density, morphological size, frequency [and] dominance.”
The data that MONMANG provided will help to ensure the process of mangrove conservation in Indonesia is on the right track. Therefore, the advent of this android-based app will ensure social and economic stability for communities relying on and living close to mangrove ecosystems. MONMANG plays an imperative role in protecting the coastal environment by collecting and summarizing thousands of data points to inform local and international research on mangroves.
Mangrove planting improves the living conditions in Indonesia by reducing poverty and providing natural resources. As the mangrove conservation in Indonesia continues, the nation will reach its 2024 rehabilitation goal and continue exploring the benefits mangroves can bring to the community.
– Jiaying Guo