President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo planted mangroves with members of the local community at Raja Kecik Beach, Muntai Barat village, Bengkalis regency, Riau, on Sept. 28, accompanied by the environment and forestry minister and the head of Mangrove and Peatland Restoration Agency (BRGM), Hartono.
Jokowi said the government would rehabilitate mangrove forests and land throughout the country covering an area of 34,000 hectares by the end of 2021. According to Jokowi, mangrove rehabilitation is a strategy to defend our national territory, as well as anticipating global climate change.
“We’re doing this mangrove rehabilitation not only in Bengkalis regency but across Indonesia because mangroves store four to five times more carbon than tropical forests. The mangrove rehabilitation will contribute greatly to the absorption of carbon emissions and confirm our commitment to the Paris Agreement,” Jokowi said after planting the mangroves.
According to Hartono mangrove rehabilitation activities in Bengkalis regency covered an area of 973 ha. Around 1.4 million mangrove seedlings have already been planted in an area of 464 ha, implemented by 24 local community groups.
Upon seeing this progress, Hartono said he was optimistic that the mangrove rehabilitation targeted by Jokowi would be completed this year. The BRGM continues to intensify mangrove planting in nine target provinces: North Sumatra, Bangka Belitung, Riau Islands, Riau, West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, Papua and West Papua. To accelerate the rehabilitation of mangroves, the BRGM involves the local community through labor-intensive methods, so that mangrove planting will be completed quickly, according to the target.
“This program will not only improve the mangrove ecosystem but is also one of the government’s efforts to accelerate the national economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hartono said.
The mangrove rehabilitation carried out by the BRGM and the Environment and Forestry Ministry through the BPDASHL, with the National Economic Recovery (PEN) program approach, is not only aimed at protecting the ecosystem but also providing additional income for local communities.
“We want the BRGM program to benefit the community, improve living standards and purchasing power, as well as provide new sources of income, so that the ecosystem is maintained and the community is prosperous,” Hartono said.
As Indonesia has the largest mangrove and tropical peatland ecosystem in the world, respectively around 3.36 million ha and 14.9 million ha, the government’s mangrove and peatland restoration project is one of the efforts to protect the country, because the damage to both ecosystems can affect climate change in Indonesia and the world.