Indonesia: Mangroves, shrimp farming and coastal erosion

Lampung sea erosion affects settlements
Oyos Saroso H.N., The Jakarta Post 11 Jan 08;

Lampung is home to 1.9 million hectares of mangrove, 60 percent of which may have been severely damaged.

Excessive mangrove logging in the last five years has caused extreme coastal erosion on a number of beaches in Lampung province.

A strip along West Lampung coast is growing narrower, especially at Biha Beach and Selaki Cape, where seawater intrudes into human settlements during high tides.

Head of Lampung University's Environmental Research Center (PPLH), Buchori Asyik, recently said an analysis has indicated severe coastal erosion stretching from Labuhan Maringgai in East Lampung and Bakauheni to South Lampung.

The analysis was conducted by the university, the East Lampung environmental agency and the Ministry of Environmental Affairs,.

Villages affected by erosion include Margasari, Sriminosari, Muara Gading Mas, Bandar Negeri, Karya Makmur, Karya Tani, Mulyosari and Kuala Sekampung, where 300 meters of coastline have been eaten away.

The erosion process occurs when huge waves slam into the beaches, especially when carried by easterly to Lampung's east coast.

Coastal erosion intensifies as mangrove swamps -- which should act as a coastal barrier -- disappear.

Mangroves have been excessively logged by residents for firewood, or converted into shrimp farms.

Former rice farmers are now growing shrimp ponds due to sea water intrusion.

A number of residents in Bandaragung village, Sragi district, South Lampung, acknowledged that ten years ago mangrove forests there reached three kilometers inland.

Over the past five years, they said, "newcomers" had cut back the mangroves, leaving the coast exposed to erosion.

The newcomers were from Tangerang (Banten), Indramayu, Cirebon (West Java) and Brebes (Central Java), they said. They often supported themselves through small-scale shrimp farming.

Director Mukri Friatna Lampung of the local chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said reforestation efforts on the east coast had been only somewhat successful.

"Damage is also caused by the lack of initiative from the government in restoring mangroves in coastal areas. The central government has disbursed tens of billions of rupiah but restoration is carried out only through projects and doesn't involve local communities," said Mukri.

Many trees died because they weren't properly cared for or were removed, she said.

Mangrove areas which once extended up to 300 meters inland in Ketapang and Sragi, in South Lampung, and Pasir Sakti and Kuala Penet, in East Lampung, have almost disappeared.

Stumps are still visible in areas turned to shrimp farming.

Lampung Maritime and Fisheries Office data showed Lampung is home to 1.9 million hectares of mangrove, 60 percent of which may have been severely damaged.