Hoping for the Dugongs to Return
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Residents of Yensawai plant mangroves, seagrass, and corals to protect their village’s ecosystem. They hope that it could become a tourist destination.
STANDING facing the beach in West Yensawai village, North Batanta, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Petronella Munuari pointed to the neat rows of mangrove saplings in front of her. The rows of young mangroves looked like green lines along the beach with the pristine water. “We work tirelessly. My husband once came and said ‘did you not notice, it is night already?’,” recalled the 46-year-old woman of the event that happened over a year ago.
Petronella, together with her friends from the West Yensawai and East Yensawai villages who are active in the Mangrove Group, prepared the nursery and planted mangroves there early last year. Until March 25, when Tempo English—along with the group from the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF)-National Development Planning Ministry/National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) and work partners—visited Yensawai, they have managed to grow around 7,500 young mangroves stretching about 250 meters long.
They continuously monitor the growth of the saplings. If any gets washed out to sea, they would immediately replace it. They regularly measure the height of the plants. “I am happy,” said Petronella. “Our village will surely become more secure and beautiful.”
Aside from planting mangroves, the people of Yensawai also transplant seagrass and coral reefs that are not only pleasing to the eyes, but also crucial for the marine ecosystem. All these activities are the implementation of the integrated coastal management design program facilitated by the Center for Coastal and Marine Resources Studies of Bogor Agriculture Institute (PKSPL IPB), a partner of ICCTF-Bappenas in the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management-Coral Triangle Initiative (Coremap-CTI), using a grant from the World Bank. Yusuf Arifin, the owner of a homestay that protrudes into the beach and cuts between the rows of mangroves, is hoping that the rehabilitation of the coastal ecosystem in the region could protect various marine life, including sea turtles and dugongs that are occasionally sighted in the waters of Bantata. “There would be many guests coming,” said the 45-year-old man.