On Borneo’s west coast, where the Nibung River flows into the Java Sea, mangrove forests thrive. These forests, just miles from the equator, are home to a hugely diverse set of creatures.
Orhids twine among several species of mangroves and other trees as long-tailed monkeys and langurs navigate the branches. Barking deer graze below. There are hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds, from tiny sandpipers to albatrosses with 10-foot wingspans. In the water, there are dolphins, green and hawksbill sea turtles, crocodiles, and plentiful crabs and fish.
Traditionally, most village residents make a living from catching crabs, shrimp, and fish. That means their survival depends on a healthy mangrove forest. Since destructive fishing methods and tree-clearing began to deplete the fisheries, the villagers have shown a strong commitment to protecting the forest. Three-person teams patrol the mangrove forest every day. They also rotate fishing and crabbing so that no area is under constant pressure.
The village requested Seacology’s help to build a facility to support the crab fishery. In the wild, most crab hatchlings don’t survive to maturity. The villagers will collect small hatchlings and let them grow until they have a better chance at survival, and then release them back into the mangrove forest. Eventually, some of those crabs will be harvested. The village will also buy walkie-talkies, a surveillance drone, and a laptop to help them keep an eye on the mangrove area. This program will foster economic security—and provide a greater incentive to enforce strict protection of the mangrove forest.
Our nonprofit partner is INTAN (Institute for Forest Product Technology, Research and Development), which helps indigenous villages develop livelihoods from sustainable forest products. We worked together for the successful conservation of a peat forest in Rasau Sebaju on Borneo.