Indonesia: Reclamation destroying mangroves in Manado

Lita Aruperes The Jakarta Post 25 May 16;

Reclamation projects that had been started in Manado in the 1990s had not only had made hundreds of fishermen lose their jobs, but also destroyed mangroves along the city’s coastlines stretching 18 kilometers from north to south.

The projects had turned the mangroves into shopping malls and posh hotels — the icons of modernity.

“The size of the reclamation area is about 700 hectares and it pushes the fishermen out of their livelihoods,” said Rignolda Djalamaluddin, an agriculture and fisheries lecturer with Sam Ratulangi University.

In the first stage of the reclamation project, the coastlines of the three districts of Wenang, Sario and Malalayang disappeared and so did the mangroves. The projects forced many fishermen to switch professions.

The second stage of the project, which is now ongoing, affected three more districts, Singkil, Tuminting and Bunaken, the latter of which is famous for its diving spots.

“Once this second project is completed, we can imagine how big a mangrove area will disappear,” he said recently.

Rignolda’s concern was not baseless. Now, people can hardly find mangroves from the north, which borders with the regency of North Minahasa, to the south where it borders with the regency of South Minahasa.

“The only mangrove left in Manado is in the Bahowo neighborhood. That is the last bastion of the mangrove following the two decades of the reclamation project,” said Sonny Tawisjawa of the Wildlife Conservation Society ( WCS ), an organization that offers advocacy to the people in the coastal area.

Bahowo is one of the four neighborhoods in the Bunaken district, which borders with the regency of North Minahasa. Local residents very much rely for their livelihoods on the ocean.

Mangrove is crucial for people living on the coastlines given its ecological, biological and economical benefits. “Mangrove serves to keep the muds and protects the soil from erosion,” Sonny added.

It also serves as the habitat of some fish and a place for breeding. At the same time, the mangrove produces tree trunks or branches that can be used as firewood.

The Manado Environment Agency has no detailed information on the size of mangrove left in the capital of the North Sulawesi province, but Sonny said the mangrove left in Tongkaina village, including in Bahowo, was about 84 hectares.

“We do not know the master plan of the reclamation. If it continues to Bahowo, Manado will no longer have mangrove,” Sonny added.

While the local administration seems to ignore the condition of the coastlines, residents have started to conserve their surroundings by growing trees along the water.

“We keep the mangrove by regularly planting trees,” said Benyamin Loho, head of the Bahowo neighborhood in Bunaken.

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