The guardians of the mangrove forest in West Kalimantan, Indonesia

By Climate Champions | August 7, 2023

Partner: Global Mangrove Alliance

Implementer: Local communities and local governments of West Kalimantan, The Peat and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM), Planet Indonesia.

Country & Region: Indonesia, Asia

Impact System: Coastal and Ocean Systems

Beneficiaries / Impact:  + 700 ha restored, 1,318 villagers of which 40% are  fishermen directly dependent on healthy mangroves

Imagine a world where 15 million people are safer from storms and flooding, where 4.1 million small-scale fishers have a secure livelihood, and where 25 billion fish and shellfish thrive. This isn’t a fantasy; it’s what could be achieved through the restoration of the world’s mangroves.

On 26 July, we celebrated International Mangroves Day, not only as an opportunity to reflect on these incredible ecosystems but a reminder of the unbreakable bond between humanity and nature.

Mangroves are nature’s shield against the wrath of rising seas and storm surges, especially for vulnerable coastal communities in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developing Countries (LDCs). They are not just barriers; they are nurseries for marine life, carbon sinks, and symbols of culture and tradition.

According to the State of the World’s Mangroves Report 2022:

  • 8,183km² of mangroves can be restored globally. Restoring half of these would:
  • Generate over 25 billion commercially vital fish and shellfish every year.
  • Support millions of fishers and countless communities.
  • Sequester carbon equivalent to 1.27 gigatons of CO2.
  • Reduce flood risk to some 15 million people yearly.

But it’s in the local communities where these statistics come to life. In the coastal villages of West Kalimantan, the devastation of once-thriving mangrove forests, essential to the livelihood of countless local fishers, has ignited a movement for restoration and rejuvenation. This effort is not merely about rebuilding a marine life habitat but reconnecting with a part of the community’s identity.

Spearheaded by community members and supported by local governments, national authorities, Planet Indonesia, and the Global Mangrove Alliance, among others, efforts are underway to reconstruct what was lost. By blending modern scientific knowledge with traditional insights, villagers are nurturing the mangroves as symbols of their cultural heritage.

In Sungai Nibong, a village with 1,318 inhabitants where 40 percent are fishermen, the livelihoods are intimately tied to healthy mangroves. Reviving the green mangrove barrier signifies not only a resurgence in economic prosperity but also an improvement in the community’s income and livelihood.

Residents are also eager to develop a bioeconomy, creating products like mangrove honey and syrup. One local villager poignantly notes, “It’s not just about the trees and tides; it’s about our tomorrow, our children’s legacy.”

Specific regulations have been created to protect the mangroves, including the declaration of a Marine and Coastal Protected Area in Sungai Nibung Village. Penalties have been set for mangrove destruction: if a resident destroys a mangrove tree, they must plant 10 seedlings in return.

The positive impact of mangrove restoration is extending to other West Kalimantan communities such as North Kayong, Ketapang, Mempawah, Sambas, Singkawang, Kubu Raya, and Bengkayang. These villages have restored 789 hectares of mangrove forests, with the Indonesian government’s Peat and Mangrove Restoration Agency’s support under a program seeking to restore 3.3 million hectares by 2024. In the West Kalimantan region alone, the target is to restore at least 1,000 hectares.

Setting a global target to catalyse and measure action

Recognizing this potential, the Sharm El Sheikh Adaptation Agenda (SAA) takes these localized successes and amplifies them into a global commitment. Its landmark outcome focused on Coastal and Ocean Systems has set a target to see USD $4 billion invested to secure the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves globally. This initiative is monumental in its scope, encompassing efforts to halt mangrove loss, restore half of recent losses, double the protection of mangroves globally, and ensure sustainable long-term finance for all existing mangroves.

Leading  this effort, The Global Mangrove Alliance launched the Mangrove Restoration Tracking Tool. This innovative tool provides critical support to restoration efforts by offering real-time data and insights. It enables the tracking of restoration projects, assists in evaluating their effectiveness, and identifies areas where improvement and scaling can occur. Unlike many technological solutions, this tool isn’t confined to experts; it’s designed for accessibility, allowing anyone with an interest in mangroves to engage with the data. By making this information transparent and widely available, it supports a collaborative approach to restoration, engaging communities, governments, and organizations alike.

The Tracking Tool will allow the work of local communities, governments and organizations to be accounted for and support in tracking the success of restoration globally.

Join the movement

Restoring mangroves is not just an environmental goal; it’s a human one. It’s about securing lives, livelihoods, and a legacy for future generations.

Learn more about our Mangrove 2030 Breakthroughs

Learn more about our partner, The Mangrove Alliance 

The mangrove restoration project in West Kalimantan was initially published by the Global Mangrove Alliance and the Pontianak Post. 

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