The community of Setapuk Besar, on the west coast of Borneo, is responsible for a three-kilometer stretch of mangrove forest along the coastline. The mangroves provide habitat for the rufous-backed kingfisher, white stork, sea eagles, and other species. The long-beaked common dolphin and economically beneficial species of crabs, shrimp, and scallops are also found there.
Since colonial times, Indonesian governments have encouraged clearing mangroves to make room for coconut plantations. The results have been disastrous. Loss of mangroves has worsened erosion, wave damage, and saltwater intrusion into the rice and vegetable fields. There has been a noticeable loss of fish and shellfish.
The community is keenly aware of the mangrove ecosystem’s importance. It has pledged to conserve its 741-acre mangrove forest, both protecting existing trees and planting new ones. The local fishermen’s group patrols the existing mangroves and replants cleared areas.
Working with the Pontianak Urban Forest group, Seacology will fund a community center. The fishermen plan to hold workshops on replanting: how to select mangrove propagules, and how to pot and plant them. The building will also function as an interpretive center for the 1,500 tourists who visit each year. It will house photos, videos, and written material on mangrove ecosystems and propagation.
The Seacology grant will also fund a bridge into the mangroves. The structure will facilitate visits by tourists and by volunteers who are replanting and patrolling the area.