The Indonesian government has teamed up with a local mining company to plant 30,000 mangrove seedlings and releasing 20,000 clams in North Sumatra, as the government earmarked the region as an ideal area for mangrove restoration.
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry partnered with Agincourt Resources on World Wetlands Day to plant the seedlings across a 10-hectare area in the Central Tapanuli region along the west coast of Sumatra, which features a coastline stretching some 200 kilometres.
“We appreciate all parties for this mangrove planting action, hopefully it won’t be the last. We hope that there will continue to be support and also other innovations regarding the protection of the sea coast,” said Dasrul Chaniago, director of pollution control and coastal and marine damage at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
The government said rehabilitating and conserving mangrove ecosystems would help Indonesia achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.
Ruli Tanio, deputy president director of Agincourt Resources, said in a statement that planting mangroves could create new economic opportunities for the local communities through ecotourism and sustainable fishing.
The company operates the Martabe gold mine in North Sumatra, roughly 30 km from its western coast.
“We are a mining company whose operational area is not close to the coast. However, we are aware that mangrove forest is a source for protecting aquatic ecosystems between land, coast, and sea with major biological, physical, and economic functions for survival,” Tanio said.
The company partnered with local farming group Hutan Mandiri Lestari to cultivate the mangrove seedlings, which comprised of local Rhizophora seeds aged 4-6 months that reach a height of 50-80 centimetres.
The clam seeds meanwhile were of the locust species, according to the company.
Planting is expected to occur over the next 2-3 months, and will be nurtured over two years, with the potential to be extended.
The cost and source of funding for the project was not disclosed by Agincourt Resources or the Indonesian government.
Based on Indonesia’s 2021 national mangrove map, the country has an existing mangrove area of some 3.3 million hectares.
“Unfortunately, Indonesia is losing a significant number of these forests,” Dasrul told the Jakarta Post.
A 2021 study, conducted by researchers from Singaporean and Indonesian universities, estimated that some 14.1 MtCO2e of carbon emissions were released between 1985-2020 in Indonesia as a result of mangroves forests being converted into coconut plantations.
These amounts were almost four and 21 times higher than emissions from land clearing and aquaculture, respectively, as a substantial soil carbon loss occurs as a result of the mangroves being ripped up and replaced with coconuts plantations, according to the study.
“Our findings imply that improved coastal land management with the avoidance of future mangrove loss is urgently required in order to support national efforts for reducing carbon emissions from the land sector,” the study concluded.
The government aims to rehabilitate some 600,000 ha of mangroves by 2024, and has mapped around 77,000 ha of land that feature the most suitable conditions.
Indra Exploitasia, the Environment and Forestry ministry’s biodiversity conservation director, said reforestation was part of the government’s contribution to biodiversity loss targets as part of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Indonesian government has highlighted it efforts preserve seagrass and mangroves as part of its climate change policy to both reduce emissions and improve biodiversity outcomes, and to improve its blue carbon potential.
By Mark Tilly – firstname.lastname@example.org