Reducing Risk by Learning from practice in Banten Bay, Indonesia

09 Nov 2018

Despite the riches of their environment, people in these communities have very low monthly incomes, live in semi-permanent housing, and have low levels of education. In particular, people in these communities are unable to make the most of their environment due to the degradation of their environment, where the wholescale conversion of mangrove forest into small-scale fishing ponds has led to significant coastal erosion. Between 1972 and 2011, an estimated 715 ha has been lost to erosion, with an abrasion of 2 meters every five years.

Lack of community awareness contributes to environmental degradation

Prior to the Integrated Risk Management (IRM) intervention (intergated approach combining Disaster Risk, Climate change  adaptation and ecosystem restoration and  conservation), the community had very low levels of awareness of how to sustainably manage their natural resources, or restore the degraded environment. As a result, the ponds which had been created through the destruction of the mangroves had low productivity, and the wild catch that communities used to supplement the pond production was also very low.

Communities were also vulnerable to tidal flooding, brought on through the eroded coastline, which devastated coastal villages every 4-7 years. Due to a lack of understanding of the causes of the poor productivity, or the linkages between environmental degradation and the frequency of flooding, local government were also not giving sufficient attention to intervening in ecosystem management and restoration initiatives in the area. 

An IRM Approach – multiple disciplines, multiple outcomes

Since 2009 the PfR alliance, led by Wetlands International Indonesia, has been implementing an IRM intervention in Sawah Luhur village and the surrounding coastal area, including the Pulau Dua Nature Reserve. The intervention is designed to protect and rebuild the coastal areas in both locations, though a combined approach of:

  • ‘Hybrid engineering' processes to create new habitats for mangrove ecosystems, such as through the application of semi-permeable structures (by using fishing nets, bamboo fence and sand bags) as sediment traps;
  • Mangrove planting;
  • Livelihood improvement activities such as silvofishery implementation, using a Biorights mechanism; and
  • Mainstreaming and integrating these IRM principles in to local policies and regulations.

To date the intervention has benefitted over 8,500 people in the local communities in Banten Bay, and is now used as an IRM learning site, showing other communities and governments how an IRM approach can be used to restore the ecosystem whilst reducing disaster risk, mitigating climate change, and contributing to economic growth.

Rebuilding the coastline for increased prosperity and community resilience

Since the start of the PfR project, almost a hectare of new sediment has formed on the coastline, which has been repopulated by mangrove forests. Communities have been able to use the improved ecosystem to adapt their fishing practices, which has led to higher productivity and higher incomes. Birds are also returning to the ecostystem, which act as important natural predators for pests which can harm farm productivity. Community members are also now diversifying their incomes through practices related to the reconstruction of the ecosystem, such as ecotourism.

The reparation of the coast has also contributed to the reduced risk of tidal floods, with the growing green ‘belt' of mangroves acting as a natural trapping tool for water and physical barrier for the waves.

The community has reported an increased awareness of the importance of environmental restoration and conservation and, through the close engagement of the PfR partners in the project, keenly support the initiative and advocate for its replication in other coastal communities.

Finally, the local government has embraced its role in reducing disaster risk, and is strongly focused on preventative measures, including the conservation of the Pulau Dua Nature Reserve and the ongoing planting of mangroves. The government has displayed a commitment to working closely with the community to identify ongoing risks and establish effective response and mitigation processes.