Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) affiliate of The Nature Conservancy introduces corporate partners who have provided support, contributions, and commitments to save mangrove forests and their ecosystems at the MERA Media EXPOSÈ event, at Agneya Restaurant, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta . Since its launch on July 26 2018, MERA has partnered with Asia Pulp & Paper (APP/Sinar Mas), Indofood Sukses Makmur, Chevron Pacific Indonesia, and soon joined the Djarum Foundation.
The event was also attended by the Board of Trustee Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, Head of the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) Ahmad Munawir, Professor of Coastal and Marine Ecology, Bogor Agricultural University Prof. Dr. Ir Dietriech G. Bengen, DEA, and YKAN corporate champion Franky Welirang. The discussion on the MERA program was discussed in a panel discussion with MERA partners, namely APP Director of Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Elim Sritaba, Indofood Head of Corporate Communications Stefanus Indrayana, and PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia Senior VP Corporate Affairs Wahyu Budiarto.
The Mangrove Ecosystem Restoration Alliance (MERA) is a partnership platform that works synergistically to save and preserve mangrove forests. The MERA work program is also based on strong scientific studies as a reference for making a design plan for mangrove forest restoration. This is important to support the return of the function of mangrove forests as an ecosystem, not just a collection of mangrove trees.
Mangrove forest ecosystem is an important ecosystem in coastal areas. It is estimated that 80 percent of the world's catch of fish depends on mangrove forests, either directly or indirectly. Its dense roots and the surrounding vegetation environment play an important role in filtering water from dirt and other pollutants to produce clean water.
In an area equivalent to a tropical forest, mangrove forests are able to store 3-5 times more carbon. As an illustration, a 1 hectare mangrove forest can absorb 1,000 tons of carbon per hectare. That's why saving mangrove forests is crucial in fighting climate change.
However, mangrove forests in Indonesia are now in critical condition. In the last three decades, more than 50% of Indonesia's mangrove forests have been lost. Most of it is due to land conversion for aquaculture and development. This also makes Indonesia the country with the fastest rate of destruction of mangrove forests in the world.
In fact, Indonesia was previously known as the country with the largest mangrove area in the world which has a mangrove forest of 3.556 million ha (KLHK, 2019). However, now 33.55 percent or 1.193 million mangrove lands in Indonesia are in critical condition. This effort to save and preserve mangrove forests is also a joint task for all parties, including the government, state-owned and private companies, as well as community institutions.
“In this MERA Media Expose, we remind the importance of mangroves for people's lives, especially those living in coastal areas. However, to preserve and maintain the sustainability of mangrove plants, YKAN cannot move on its own and requires assistance from other parties. Therefore, we thank those who have shown their concern and consistently support the mangrove forest conservation program by joining the MERA," explained Rizal Algamar, Chairman of Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara, in Jakarta, Thursday (25/4).
“Indofood supports the MERA program as a form of the company's concern for the environment. We have planted mangrove seedlings several times on several beaches in Jakarta. We consider it important to save the last mangrove forest in Jakarta and see that MERA has an integrated conservation and ecosystem restoration program. We hope that the small steps we have taken will save the environment for the future of future generations," said Indofood's Head of Corporate Communications Stefanus Indrayana.
In Jakarta itself now only about 300 hectares of mangrove forest remain, which is located in the Angke Kapuk area, North Jakarta. A total of 25 hectares are located within the Muara Angke Wildlife Reserve (SMMA). The MERA program is working in this area and 80 percent of the initial assessment has been done.
Head of the Jakarta BKSDA Ahmad Munawir explained that the government appreciated the MERA program which really set an example that in developing an area restoration plan it must be based on a strong scientific analysis. Currently, MERA is in the stage of finalizing the area management master plan, as well as detailed engineering design for infrastructure development in accordance with conservation principles. The hope is that after this is completed, the ecosystem restoration activities can immediately begin because the points to be restored have already been mapped.
The next stage is the completion of the ecosystem restoration plan, preparation of infrastructure development, and preparing modules for environmental education. And in the next five years, ensure that SMMA can be used as an education center and limited tourism by strengthening SMMA management institutions and providing sustainable funding mechanisms.
APP Sinar Mas Director of Sustainability Elim Sritaba welcomed the progress that had been made in this program. Elim Sritaba added, "Efforts to protect the environment are in line with the Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2020 from APP Sinar Mas. We hope that this partnership program in the MERA alliance can realize our aspirations to create sustainable and integrated mangrove management in the future, as well as support the Indonesian government's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.
A similar response also came from PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia's Senior VP of Corporate Affairs, Wahyu Budiarto. “We are pleased to be able to participate in the MERA program in Jakarta Bay, partnering with YKAN and several other private companies, to support government programs in the field of environmental protection and biodiversity conservation, especially mangrove conservation programs. Together with YKAN and the Regional Government of Riau Province, we plan to replicate the mangrove conservation program in Dumai and Bengkalis, Riau. Currently, a study on the design of the coastal restoration plan in the two areas is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. We hope that the implementation of this program can start in 2020.”
With the support for MERA, it is hoped that a collective understanding will be created regarding the mangrove ecosystem restoration alliance program. Partners or supporters who have joined the program are also expected to show full support and commitment to integrated mangrove forest management. Caring for mangroves, protecting beaches, for a better earth.
Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) is a scientific-based non-profit organization that has been present in Indonesia since 2014. With the mission of protecting lands and waters as life support systems, we provide innovative solutions to realize the harmony of nature and humans through effective natural resource management, prioritizing a non-confrontational approach, and building a network of partnerships with all stakeholders for a sustainable Indonesia. For more information, visit ykan.or.id.