Residents of Wedung Village in Demak District now feel more confident about conserving mangroves in their community due to the adoption of a village regulation on coastal and mangrove protection. Under the regulation, the rules covering the area are clear, as well as sanctions for those who violate them. The village regulation was drafted and ratified by the village government with the help of the Onggojoyo Jaya group, a community group that participated in the Building with Nature Indonesia programme in Demak.
The establishment of village coastal regulations was one of the activities supported through the Bio-rights finance mechanism. Community members participating in the programme were required to help their village government draft a regulation, or revise and implement existing regulations. After being ratified, the village regulation was communicated to residents in order to improve their understanding of the importance of mangrove conservation for the sustainability of the coastal area and the lives of residents. They were also informed about the rules included in the regulation.
“Through Building with Nature, we are increasingly aware of the benefits and importance of mangroves, not only for the coastal environment, but also for the people who live around the mangrove area. Therefore, we also understand why we must ensure that mangrove management has a policy umbrella, at least at the village level. Because with the strength of a policy, mangrove management can be more effective.”
To support implementation of the village regulation, the Onggojoyo Jaya group, headed by Maskur, also helped the village government and village advisory officer (BABINSA) to create markers for the 100-meter-wide mangrove greenbelt along the coast. The markers provide a warning so that no one clears and cultivates land in the greenbelt area, thus providing space for mangroves to grow naturally. In addition, signs prohibiting activities which damage the mangrove area were also erected. Through the process of communicating about the regulation and the regular activities of the group to protect the mangroves, residents have begun to understand the important benefits of mangroves and community environmental awareness has increased. This is evident through the fact that there are no more cases of mangrove logging within the village area.
Prior to joining the Building with Nature programme, Maskur admitted that he had wished for a sustainable mangrove environment; when there were activities related to mangrove rehabilitation, he was always ready to help. When the Building with Nature programme started in Wedung Village, and he was chosen as group leader, Maskur immediately agreed. He observed that the programme has given him and his group an in-depth understanding of the benefits and importance of mangroves, not only for the coastal environment, but also for the future of the community. They also understand why the programme strongly encourages groups to advocate for the establishment of an umbrella policy for mangrove management, at least at the village level. Mangrove conservation will be more secure with policy support. Therefore, Maskur and the members of his group participated in village deliberations in order to propose the establishment of this policy, which the village government accepted.
Maskur and his group were very impressed with the level of support from the village government. For example, the village government allocated funds for several activities related to the rehabilitation and conservation of mangroves, including the development of mangrove track tourism. The latest support was the allocation of 25 million rupiah of village funds through the village-owned enterprise (BUMDES) for mangrove-related activities. The process and focus of the funding are still under consideration. One possibility is the continuation of mangrove rehabilitation using the Bio-rights mechanism.
Maskur feels that one of the important achievements of the programme implemented by the Onggojoyo Jaya group is the change in people’s views and behavior and the high level of support from the village government towards mangrove conservation. He hopes that this will endure so that he and his family and other community members can continue to experience the benefits of the mangrove forest in Wedung Village.
Apart from being the head of the Onggojoyo Jaya group, Maskur is also entrusted with leading the Bina Noto Segoro Forum (Bintoro Forum) in Demak. This forum includes 11community groups from nine villages along the coast of Demak. Bintoro functions as a forum for friendship and communication for the groups assisted by the Building with Nature programme and also other projects. The Forum also facilitates collaboration between groups in continuing activities that are in line with those initiated by the Building with Nature programme.
Building with Nature
From 2015 to 2021, a landscape-scale implementation of the Building with Nature approach was implemented in Demak district, Indonesia. We restored coastal and riverine mangroves to halt coastal erosion and boosted the local economy by introducing mangrove-friendly aquaculture practices. Besides engineering interventions, we engaged deeply with stakeholders to address the root causes of coastal breakdown and deliver multiple benefits to coastal communities.
Through the Bio-rights mechanism, we gave communities financial and technical support to change aquaculture methods or invest in alternative livelihoods in return for their active engagement in conservation and restoration and engaged them in village development planning.