Issue 10
Monday, 20 June 2016
Charles Darwin University
PhD candidate at CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods Benjamin Brown
PhD candidate at CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods Benjamin Brown

Mangrove recovery movement takes world stage

By Katie Weiss

A Charles Darwin University PhD candidate will travel to one of the world’s largest mangrove conservation conferences to discuss an initiative that aims to recover the vital ecosystem in Indonesia.

Benjamin Brown said technology was available to restore entire degraded mangrove forest landscapes in Indonesia, but the initiative still required political and landholder support.

Mr Brown said he would present findings from a feasibility assessment recently conducted in various regions of Indonesia, during the upcoming “Mangroves and Macrobenthos Meeting IV” in Florida, United States.

He will be joined at the conference by fellow PhD candidates at CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Clint Cameron and Sigit Deni Sasmito.

Mr Brown interviewed 400 residents and political leaders from communities in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi for the assessment on whether they supported large-scale mangrove restoration in their regions.

He said the Tanjung Panjang Nature Reserve in northern Sulawesi received the widest community and local government support to restore 6600 hectares of degraded mangroves.

“People are aware of the value of mangroves and how to restore them but, before we can move forward, we need to address the drivers that caused them to be converted in the first place,” Mr Brown said.

He said the conversion of mangrove forests into aquaculture ponds was the biggest cause of mangrove degradation in Indonesia, despite many ponds being unproductive or disused.

Mr Brown said the process of restoring mangrove forests from converted ponds involved improving the pond’s hydrology to recreate natural water flows.

“For a little mangrove restoration work, you get a lot more bang for your buck, with mangroves being able to store 100 times the amount of carbon per hectare than tropical rainforests,” he said.

Mr Brown founded the non-government organisation, “Mangrove Action Project – Indonesia”, in 2000 and then in 2013 co-founded the “Blue Forests” group, which works in regions of Indonesia from Sumatra to West Papua.