The Source, Annual Review 2020

The endangered milky stork is returning to the green mangrove belt.

the tides. Instead they mimic mangroves by capturing silt and slowing scouring currents, allowing mangroves seeds in the passing water to settle in the silt and re-establish themselves. Nature does the planting, not humans. The work of erecting and maintaining the barriers was done by villagers. Their labour has been recompensed with financial support and training for new local economic activities, through Wetlands International’s Bio-rights conditional loan system, under which loans are written off if the restoration work is successfully completed. “The engagement of local communities is vital as in the long run they are the ones, together with village government, who will maintain the barriers,” says Yus Rusila Noor, head of programmes at Wetlands International Indonesia. Blue Forests, an Indonesian NGO that ran the coastal field school in Demak, says some 400 local farmers learned to replace expensive chemical pesticides and fertilizers in their ponds with home-made organic alternatives, and found they improved water quality and yields. Blue Forest’s programme manager Woro Yuniati, who devised the curriculum, says many also tried out the idea of restoring mangroves around their ponds, to dampen the effect of waves.

The local community helped build permeable structures in Demak, recompensed with financial support and training for new local economic activities.

Many coastlines in South and Southeast Asia have lost coastal mangroves in recent decades. They have been widely replaced by ponds excavated to farm shrimps and fish. But those mangroves trapped silt, and rebuffed winds, waves, high tides and even tsunamis -- protecting the coasts and their inhabitants from danger. So their loss has often accelerated coastal erosion and exposed communities to danger. In Demak on the north coast of Java, the loss of mangroves has triggered an invasion by the Java Sea that has reached several kilometres inland, engulfing the ponds, and drowning villages or leaving them elevated on stilts and connected to the land by threads of raised land. Around 70,000 people suffered the effects. With its partners, Wetlands International sought to turn the tide. Starting in the village of Timbulsloko, which is today reached by a five-kilometre causeway past washed-away rice fields and fish ponds, Building with Nature sought to reverse the land loss with novel technology and incentives for locals to adopt more sustainable livelihoods that preserved and restored the mangroves. The technology has worked, with villages erecting a total of nine kilometres of permeable brushwood barriers – a little like outsize nets on tennis courts -- in the shallow waters a few metres offshore. The barriers do not aim to stop

The villages now have some 420 hectares of improved shrimp ponds that do not compete with the regrowing

Building with Nature Indonesia has improved 420 hectares of shrimp ponds, whereby yields have now tripled and farmers’ profits have doubled.



Wetlands International Annual Review 2020

Wetlands International Annual Review 2020

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