The Source, Annual Review 2020

Building with Nature can be applied to other Asian countries too; Indonesia can help and take a leading role

Monitoring of ecological mangrove restoration in Betahwalang Village.

are being taught into Indonesian universities and copied by the Indonesian government elsewhere.

mangroves. Pond yields have tripled and farmers’ profits have doubled. Other alternative livelihoods funded by the project include small-scale tourist developments, often based on organised visits to the mangroves and the bird life they attract -- though they have suffered during the pandemic lockdown. The barriers are now in the hands of the communities that they protect, supported by local government administrations and a forum of community groups called Bina Noto Segoro (Bintoro), which is Javanese for “to manage the sea”. The mangroves cannot solve all the problems of the disappearing coast, says Bregje van Wesenbeek, of Deltares, a Dutch research institute and partner on the project. The area is also suffering subsidence because of the abstraction of groundwater by industry in nearby city of Semarang. And dams and dykes on rivers draining into the sea nearby reduce the supply of silt needed to rebuild the coast. In mid-2020, a major tidal surge temporarily engulfed many of the new aquaculture ponds. Still, the project has been widely hailed as a success. In its final weeks of formal activity at the end of 2020, Building with Nature Indonesia won the Flood and Coastal Excellence Award from the British government’s Environment Agency. Its engineering and social methods

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs has erected around 25 kilometres of brushwood barriers on other threatened coastlines in 13 districts across the country, including in Lombok and Sulawesi. Some 30 million people in coastal communities stand to benefit, says the ministry’s Hendra Yusran Siry, who has been responsible for the upscaling. The Indonesian government wants to share the good news across the region, he says. “Building with Nature can be applied to other Asian countries too, and beyond. Across the world thousands of kilometres of tropical mud coasts are suffering dramatic erosion from lost mangroves. We can help. Indonesia, as the world’s largest archipelago… has the potential and experience to take a leading role.” Coastal engineers remain hesitant, waiting to see if the techniques are proved to work better than concrete, says Datuk Keizrul bin Abdullah, the chair of the board of Wetlands International in neighbouring Malaysia, and one of his country’s leading civil engineers. But so far, Malaysia, the Philippines. China, Thailand, India and the Asian Development Bank have all expressed interest in replicating Indonesia’s experience of Building with Nature.

Meanwhile, for the Indonesian city of Semarang, as part

The permeable structures neighbouring the village of Timbulsloko, where the project activities started.


Wetlands International Annual Review 2020

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