Build Concern of the Raja Ampat Community to Conserve Mangrove Forests

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The seashore in Friwen Village, Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua Province. (EcoNusa Foundation/Moch. Fikri)

The natural wealth in West Papua is never used up. Besides having extraordinary natural beauty, West Papua has a mangrove forest which covers an area of more than 400 thousand hectares. Mangrove forest (mangrove) is a type of forest that grows in coastal areas that are tidal inundated and free from seawater.

Mangrove forests have many benefits, such as absorbing carbon dioxide to reduce global warming, as the main ecosystem of marine life, resist tidal waves and coastal abrasion, absorb waste, and benefit the community. Communities can also use mangrove forests for daily life, such as using wood, leaves and fruit.

Quoted from, from 438,252 hectares of forests in West Papua, only 4% were damaged. One of the mangrove forests that is still maintained its authenticity is in the Friwen and Yenbeser villages located in the South Waigeo District, Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua.

The community has not yet utilized the maximum potential of mangrove forests in their area. People here prefer to be fishermen. The catch is used for daily food and the rest is sold to the Regency Capital, Waisai.

A resident of Friwen village, Beksimayor, said that other activities carried out by the community besides fishing are gardening and homestay businesses. Currently the community is starting to develop businesses in the tourism sector, namely by building homestays. “We planted rica, tomatoes, yams, in the private garden behind. There are also cucumbers and eggplants. We started planting in March and three months later we harvested 3 times. Harvests are usually sold at the Kampung Mansuar homestay, “he said.

The knowledge of the residents here regarding the use and conservation of mangrove forests is very minimal. The community only uses mangrove forest products as building material for making homestays and firewood. Beksimayor also explained that mangroves are also used by the community for consumption. However, there is no use of mangrove forests to support greater community life.

“Usually we mix mangroves with rice. Boiled Mangi, soak, freshly cooked but this is not from socialization. This is not made for sale at home. Not yet trying to sell, do not know whether there is a market or not, “he said.

Lack of community knowledge about the preservation of mangrove forests will also affect the condition of the forest. To get maximum results, people need to know the types of mangroves that can be processed so that they are of economic value.

EcoNusa cooperates with the Raja Ampat Coastal Friends Association in collaboration with Gorontalo Natural Resources Management Advocacy Network (JAPESDA) and Kalimantan Coastal Friends (Sampan) Friends to conduct training for the community on mangrove forest conservation in the form of socialization of nursery methods and site selection.

Before any project intervention, residents did not understand the importance of maintaining and maintaining the function of mangrove forests. Though the existence of mangrove forests is very important because it has a dual role. Besides having ecological potential, mangroves also provide economic benefits for the surrounding community.

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