Wednesday, March 13, 2013


    Jakarta, March 13, 2013 (Antara) - Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, Nigeria and India are countries with the largest area of mangrove forests, which are among the most threatened habitats in the world.
         Mangroves are disappearing more quickly than inland tropical rainforests particularly due to clear cutting for shrimp farms.
         Their deforestation has caused among other things fisheries declines, degradation of clean water supplies, salinization of coastal soils, erosion and land subsidence.

         Besides as habitat for aquatic and terrestrial fauna and flora,  mangroves are crucial to traditional and indigenous coastal populations who have found sustenance from mangroves by collecting products and resources for medicines, fibers and dyes, food, charcoal, and construction materials.
         Other ecosystem services provided by mangroves include protection from strong winds and waves; soil stabilization and erosion protection; nutrient retention and water quality improvement through filtration of sediments and pollutants; flood mitigation; sequestration of carbon dioxide;  and protection of associated marine ecosystems.
         According to the data of the forestry ministry in 1999,  mangrove area in Indonesia covered  9.2 millions ha consisting of 3.7 millions ha in the forest concession area and 5.5 millions ha in the non-forest concession area.  
    Recently, Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the country still needs at least 2 million hectares of mangrove forest to add existing 3.7 million hectares.
         "Mangrove has a great economic potential. Its shoots can be processed into livestock feed and its fruits can be used as raw materials for flour and syrup," Zulkifli noted.
         A study of the forestry ministry's Directorate General of Land Rehabilitation and Social Forestry (RLPS) in 2008 indicated that a total economic value of mangrove ecosystem reached Rp29.1 million per hectare per year.
         The Indonesian forestry ministry's director general for forestry development, Iman santoso, in a Regional Symposium on "Mangrove Ecosystem Management in Southeast Asia" held in Surabaya, East Java, on February 27, 2013, however, said the country has around 25 million hectares of mangrove area, constituting 75 percent of the Southeast Asia's mangroves.
         The country's  mangroves have about 157 species of flora consisting of 52 species of trees, 21 species of shrubs, 13 species of lyana, seven species of palms, 14 species of grasses, 8 species of herbs, three species of parasites, 36 species of ephyphites and three species of ferns.
         Indonesia's most important major mangrove species are Rhizophora spp., Bruguiera spp., Ceriops spp., Sonneratia spp., Avicennia spp., Lumnitzera spp., Kandelia candel and Nypa fruticans. 
    Important minor mangrove species are Excoecaria agalocha, Xylocarpus granatum, Heritiera littoralis, Aegiceras corniculatum, Aegialitis sp., Acrostichum sp., Scyphiphora sp., Pemphis sp., Osbornia sp., Pelliciera sp. and Camptostemon sp.
         The common associated mangrove species are Cerbera manghas, Acanthus ilicifolius, Derris sp., Hibiscus tiliaceus, Calamus, and other cycads and ephyphites.
         There are about 118 species of marine fauna associated with mangroves in Indonesia consisting of 48 species of Gastropoda, 9 species of Bivalvia and 61 species of Crustaceae
    During a seminar entitled "Ecological Mangrove Rehabilitation - Principles and Case Studies from Florida and Indonesia" held in Singapore, in February 2012, Benjamin Brown,  the director of Mangrove Action Project (MAP) Indonesia, said mangroves were being destroyed for multiple purposes mainly unsustainable developments including shrimp aquaculture (shrimp ponds), charcoal production and logging, oil exploration and extraction, tourism and urbanization and urban expansion.
         MAP reported that  currently less than half the world's original mangrove forest cover remains. 
    The disappearance of mangroves, however, is usually unnoticed or hardly receives public attention, until recently when media reported that Real Madrid's soccer star, Cristiano Ronaldo, is willing to champion the conservation of mangroves in Indonesia.
         Ronaldo has been named ambassador for Bali-based Forum Peduli Mangrove (Mangrove Care Forum) which is supported by five community empowerment organizations from regencies in the southern part of Benoa Bay, Bali, Artha Graha Peduli Foundation announced in Jakarta on March 11, 2013.      
    The appointment of Ronaldo  was sealed at a meeting in Madrid on March 8, between the 28-year-old star and the project's founder, Tomy Winata.
         "I am privileged to be able to play a role in conserving mangroves in Indonesia. I was in Aceh after the 2004 tsunami and the devastation I saw left a deep impression. I understand that in places where there were mangroves to provide the ecosystem buffer against high waves, more lives were saved and less damage sustained" Ronaldo said.
         Meanwhile, Winata said he was delighted that Ronaldo has agreed to support the efforts to conserve mangrove forests in Indonesia.
         "He is an ideal ambassador for mangrove conservation as he has mass appeal and we want the message of 'Save Mangrove, Save Earth' to reach the young and old, rich and poor," he said. 
    Winata stated that mangrove conservation is an important but neglected area of conservation.
         "We are running out of time. The world is losing mangroves at an alarming rate. The situation in Indonesia is particularly dire, we have lost more than two million hectares of our mangrove areas. Conserving mangroves is not only about protecting the environment but also the livelihood of many villagers," he added.
         To be launched in May this year, the Forum aims to raise public awareness of the importance of conserving mangrove forests, to encourage community action to clean and preserve them, and to restore the biodiversity of the mangrove ecosystem. ***4***
  (T.F001/A/F. Assegaf/Bustanuddin) 13-0
3-2013 23:08:40

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