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Building with Nature in Indonesia: Restoring an eroding coastline and inspiring action at scale (2015-2021)

Published on:
  • Aquaculture, fisheries and coastal agriculture
  • Coastal resilience
  • Coastal wetland conservation
  • Integrated delta management

This publication summarises the interventions and insights from a landscape scale implementation of the Building with Nature approach between 2015 and 2021 in Demak, illustrated with stunning pictures of the flagship and interviews with partners and communities. In this coastal district in Central Java, Indonesia that has been plagued by erosion, flooding and devastating land loss, we encouraged the natural regeneration of mangroves along 20 kilometres of coastline while simultaneously revitalising aquaculture. With this flagship project, Indonesia has become a pioneer in shifting to working with nature in designing water infrastructure solutions. And Indonesia has set the scene for upscaling Building with Nature elsewhere.

Publication Building with Nature in Indonesia 2015-2021

Restoring an eroding coastline

Our work involved techniques such as trapping mud behind temporary permeable structures to stabilise the coastline and allow mangroves to seed and grow and the introduction of environmentally friendly aquaculture practices. Besides engineering interventions, we engaged deeply with local communities, government agencies and knowledge institutes to address the root causes of coastal breakdown and deliver multiple benefits to coastal communities.

Inspiring action at scale

Beyond landscape restoration, we have supported upscaling elsewhere in Indonesia through training, knowledge exchange, institutional embedding and stimulating multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral collaboration.

The knowledge, approaches and mechanisms used and lessons learned in Demak can support sound replication along the entire northern coast of Java, where millions of people are facing the loss of productive land.

Beyond that, we hope that our work inspires and helps enable the recovery of mangroves to protect communities and enhance local livelihoods for other Indonesian islands and for coastlines more widely in South and East Asia and globally.

Moreover, the Building with Nature approach can be mainstreamed in other types of landscapes. Check out the Building with Nature Asia initiative which aims to accelerate upscaling of Building with Nature in Asia.


The publication gives a voice to the many different partners involved in the unique public private partnership: Wetlands International, Ecoshape, the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) and the Indonesian Ministry of Public Work and Housing (PU) in partnership with Witteveen + BosDeltaresTU DelftWageningen University & ResearchUNESCO-IHEBlue ForestsKota KitaVon Liebermanthe Diponegoro University, and local communities


The Dutch Sustainable Water Fund on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Partners for Resilience, Waterloo Foundation, Otter Foundation, Top Consortia for Knowledge and Innovation, and Mangroves for the Future, and with contributions by all partners.