Get dirty with mangroves

Community-based mangrove management and rehabilitation in North Sulawesi Province, Indonesia.

Community-based mangrove management and rehabilitation in North Sulawesi Province, Indonesia.

Mangroves don’t grow easily, but they also don’t die easily. This is because they are adaptable. They can’t grow well if there is there is too much sedimentation, but too much goodness will smother them, so they adjust.

Mangroves can be damaged by the rising sea levels that threaten the ecosystem services they provide. Aside from their ability to live in areas with high salinity and peatland, mangroves can also migrate or retreat landward if they cannot tolerate the sea-level rise. But this cannot continue indefinitely because mangroves are sometimes hindered by what we build on the shore.

These days, there is a new term in fisheries — silvo-fishery. This is a method combining fishponds with mangrove plantations. Some of the kinds of fish that can live in this type of environment are milkfish, shrimp, and cockleshells. They are fish with high economic value.

One of the features of cockleshells is their ability to improve water quality. This is a part of aquaculture practice that is a way to store a source of carbon. The roots of mangroves act as carbon restraint in the soil so that the carbon cannot become carbon dioxide. The amount of carbon in the soil is influenced by the depth of the sediment or peat.

Data on carbon usually only indicates the amount on the soil cover, but actually the amount of carbon below the ground is more plentiful. Mangrove conversion causes carbon beneath the soil to be released into the air.

But this system cannot function without engagement with coastal communities. There are challenges that must be overcome, such as low willingness to pay, potentially low compliance, and doubt about permanence. Despite this, mangrove conservation and restoration cannot be done without support — it requires many people who are willing to get dirty.

So, are you ready to get dirty?

Layyinah Ayu Sukmaningrum is a student of Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia.

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