Posted by: Hendra Siry | 1 March, 2008

Environmentalists Campaign to Conserve Coastal Areas

Around two hundred children joined the fun during a day of conservation activities held by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) on Sunday at Marunda Kongsi village’s coastal area in Cilincing, North Jakarta.

About one thousand mangrove seedlings were planted and photography enthusiasts took great delight capturing elementary children busy working in the mud as they fixed new seedlings with bamboo sticks for safety.

The day also took in a drawing competition for participating children and a photography competition. The day was named Shoot to Save Our Coast for Human Dignity, and made up part of WALHI’s Eco-Justice Initiative campaign that has been going since 2006.

WALHI Jakarta executive director Selamet Daroyni said his organization wanted to raise awareness about Jakarta’s coastal areas where environmental degradation and unjust government policies had seen a decline in social welfare for coastal populations.

“We want to offer an initiative for ecological justice, where every citizen has access and control over their environment and their life resources,” he said.

Marunda was chosen as a site for the campaign because residents had responded well to the campaign idea and were willing to contribute to the program.

WALHI said it would also provide environmental education for residents so they could independently take care of their surroundings.

Riza Damanik, manager of WALHI’s coastal and marine campaigns, said Jakarta’s coastal area had deteriorated rapidly in the last few years.

“Six out of nine of Jakarta’s estuaries are heavily polluted and there are just 120 hectares of mangrove thickets left of the 1,300 hectares that existed in the 1960’s,” he said. Riza said the government’s profit-based policies for coastal areas would result in disaster for the city.

WALHI data says of all Jakarta’s coastal area, which spans 32 kilometers, at least 1,700 hectares is privately owned. Traditional fishermen have laid claim to approximately five hectares in Marunda and Cilincing.

For years, Jakarta has experienced a range of issues across its coastline including floods, tidal waves and pollution. Earlier this month, the city’s international airport was isolated for days after heavy rain left the main road to the airport flooded under meter-high waters.

Alim, 47, a fisherman from Kampung Kongsi village, said erosion and mangrove destruction had cost his village 400 meters of its coastline.

“Thirty years ago, we had to stride through a thick mangrove jungle to get into the sea,” Alim said. “But now the sea is right in front of our door step. Alim is a father of four and said he hoped the new mangrove seedlings planted by children on Sunday would be a success.

Mangrove trees need two to four years to mature and can grow more than five meters tall. Mangroves thickets provide protection for fish eggs and can help reduce natural erosion. (dre)

Source: The Jakarta Post – February 18, 2008


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