Wetlands International Supervisory Council’s visit to Banten Bay mangrove planting sites

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The Global Meeting of the Supervisory Council of Wetlands International took place from 14 to 16 June 2012 in Indonesia. The Council which is chaired by Mr. Jan Ernst de Groot consists of ten distinguished members from Europe (the Netherlands, UK and Switzerland), Africa (Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone), Latin America (Peru) and Asia (Japan). The Council is in charge of the overall supervision of the general course of affairs within Wetlands International. They oversee the implementation of its policies and Strategy and appoint the members of the Management Board.

At the outset of the visit, all participants went to the learning site of Wetlands International – Indonesia Programme in Sawah Luhur village, Serang, Banten where ecosystem restoration activities are being developed in the aquaculture areas next to Pulau Dua Nature Reserve. Those activities include the planting of more than 140,000 mangrove seedlings, combined with the efforts to improve the livelihoods of participating local community. The community is given the right to manage the pond and take the harvest (milkfish and shrimp) for free, provided they plant mangrove seedlings and look after them.  It is expected that in 5-7 years, aquacultures in that area will be transformed into green and shady places, and become a habitat for the waterbirds of Pulau Dua Nature Reserve as well as to provide additional income to local community.

At the visit, the Supervisory Council had the opportunity to interact directly with the members of local community on the ongoing collaborative programme and discussed on how future activities can be mutually beneficial for both the environment and local community development. On the same occasion, the Council members –  together with local government officials from Sawah Luhur village, Forestry Officeof Banten, local Police Office , and local Army Office –  also symbolically planted mangrove seedlings.

The representative of Sawah Luhur Village Government says,”I welcome and appreciate all activities initiated by Wetlands International together with our community members, because these integrate the restoration of fish pond environment, and at the same time also improve the livelihood of our community group members “. The Chairperson of the Council, Mr. Jan Ernst de Groot, in his speech also expressed his sincere gratitude to the local authorities for their cooperation and support to the restoration activities, and wished for an even closer and enhanced cooperation in the future. Kang Udin, a member of local community, says, “I welcome the visit of our foreign guests, and is hoping that their visit will improve our environment as well as our livelihood. I, however,  keep asking my friends here to continuously improve our efforts and weakness, as at the end all results of our activities will be enjoyed by ourself”.

To get a better picture of the potential for nature conservation, especially waterbirds conservation, the participants – equipped with official permit (SIMAKSI) from local Forestry Office– also visited Pulau Dua Nature Reserve to see several facilities (such as observation tower, ranger’s guard and interpretation boards) built through the partnership between the Department of Forestry, Indonesia and Wetlands International. Although it is not yet a breeding season, and therefore, not many waterbirds were found on the island, the Supervisory Council had a rare opportunity to witness directly the efforts of local park rangers to conserve waterbirds and their habitats in Pulau Dua Nature Reserve. (Yus Rusila Noor, Urip, Ferry Hasudungan and Triyanto)