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Blog: Close encounters of the mangrove kind


By Vera Coelho.

I admit it: before joining Wetlands International I had never even seen a mangrove. I knew about these funny trees with their roots in brackish water, but I also admit that I had no idea of the amazing ecosystems they are. All of that changed recently, when I had the opportunity to join colleagues from seven of our Wetlands International offices at a meeting in our Indonesia office, in Bogor. 

The main aim of the meeting was to share knowledge and experience regarding the network’s past and present activities relating to mangroves and coastal resilience, and to plan for the future. For me, it was a fantastic way to get to know new colleagues and to get a taste of Wetlands International’s impressive track record when it comes to mangrove conservation. It was really inspiring to learn about the amazing work that is being done in West Africa, central America, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

However, the best was yet to come. Amidst a full week of very intensive meetings and brainstorm sessions, we also had the unique opportunity to visit Wetlands International Indonesia’s demonstration site in Banten Bay, some 80km to the West of Jakarta. It is a lovely area, where we saw an amazing variety of waterbirds, crabs, and even mudskippers – in the words of one of our colleagues, “probably the only fish that seems to be afraid of water”. 


Mudskipper, by Yus Rusila Noor

Our colleagues have been working in this area for 15 years, and the site really illustrates all the components of our mangrove work. Wetlands International  has established a Bio-rights financing scheme with several households in the local community, whereby those families help maintain healthy aquaculture ponds by planting mangroves in the area, and in return they can harvest the shrimp and milk fish from the ponds.

Wetlands International also plants mangroves in the area as part of a carbon sequestration project – and we even had the chance to do our own part and plant a few mangrove seedlings.

Wetlands International staff planting mangrove seedlings, by Yus Rusila Noor

We also visited the Pulau Dua Nature Reserve, where Mr. H. Madsahi, one of the rangers at the Reserve, has been planting mangrove trees for decades. The community, together with Wetlands International, is also engaging in a small scale hybrid engineering experiment, using old fishing nets, poles, sand bags and mangroves to stave off coastal erosion.



Hybrid engineering experiment in Pulau Dua, by Vera Coelho

For me, this visit really summed up the essence of Wetlands International: a group of passionate experts, engaging with local communities for livelihoods, biodiversity and the climate.

 Wetlands International staff and community members, by Marianne Rense


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