Coastal ecosystems have been centres of human settlement for thousands of years because of their remarkable biological productivity. Coastal ecosystems provide us with essential goods and services which underpin substantial commerce benefiting local, national, regional, and global economies. They encompass our ports, trade and transport routes, all supporting economic activities- and have later become a magnet for tourism. Healthy coastal areas can also help protect us against extreme weather conditions and natural disasters which are becoming increasingly more frequent. Mangroves for the Future, MFF is a Regional Initiative which is building knowledge, strengthening empowerment, and enhancing governance. Indonesia is a focal country and has set up its own National Coordinating Body (NCB) to direct and steer activities being implemented in Indonesia. Climate change is a cross-cutting issue integrated into all MFF activities.
Many coastal ecosystems are under severe threat because of increasing populations, coastal development, and demand for coastal resources, such as fish and shellfish. Already, poor coastal communities are facing severe hardships because coastal resources no longer sustain their traditional livelihoods. Climate change exacerbates the existing threats.
Climate change impacts and human induced changes have already been witnessed in the Demak district of Central Java where thousands of hectares of mangrove forests have been converted to tambaks for shrimp and other aquaculture during the last decades. The sea has now invaded and flooded the tambaks as well as the low-lying residential areas between Pantai Moro Sari and Pantai Moro Demak. More than 200 households have already been relocated.
“Most of our families have left but we cannot move from here…fishing is what we know and we do not have any other skills, so we would still have to come back here for our livelihood” said a household member from one of the few households remaining in the most heavily flooded area near Moro Sari
“The loss of mangrove forests, land subsidence, and sea-level rise are all likely to have contributed to the increase in flooding”, say Dr. Donald Macintosh, MFF Coordinator
The Indonesian NCB has selected Demak District as one of the key MFF project implementation sites. The Regional Training Course held at Novotel, Semarang this week, is a first step towards building capacity through technical assistance in the fields of livelihoods, community participation, climate change and disaster risk reduction. The course has brought 36 participants from eight countries in the region and Indonesian and International experts as trainers and facilitators. This intense week of training will focus on applying sustainable management tools to address environmental problems in Demak District and other vulnerable coastal areas.
“The coastal communities in these areas depend on coastal resources for their survival. The stakes are high, the issues complex and challenging, but we must restore and continue to protect our coastal ecosystems. A failure to do so would be disastrous” say, Prof. Johannes Hutabarat, Dean of Faculty of Fisheries & Marine Science, UNDIP.