JAKARTA (The Straits Times/Antara News): Indonesia, home to one of the world's largest mangrove forests, has set a target of rehabilitating 150,000ha of its area under mangroves this year.
Based on data recorded in 2011, about three million ha of mangrove forests can be found along 95,000km of Indonesia's coastal areas, constituting 23 per cent of the world's mangrove ecosystem.
Papua, Kalimantan, and Sumatra Islands are the most crucial regional mangrove ecosystems.
This year's ambitious mangrove rehabilitation programme, which will be carried out particularly in critical and tsunami-prone areas, was announced by Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan.
Indonesia's mangrove forests store around 3.14 billion metric tons of carbon, or five times more carbon per hectare than highland tropical forests, says Daniel Murdiyarso, a long-time principal scientist at the Centre for International Forestry Research and a leading wetlands expert.
But mangroves have been disappearing more quickly than inland tropical rainforests, particularly due to clear-cutting for shrimp farms.
The loss has led to a decline in fisheries, degradation of clean water supply, salinisation of coastal soils, erosion and land subsidence, as well as an increase in gas emissions, among other things.
As high carbon storage ecosystems, peatland and mangrove ecosystems have a strategic role as nature-based solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation.
They store up to two to 10 times more carbon than forests.
In this photo taken on Sept 19, 2021, a volunteer from the Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation collect plastic waste from a mangrove swamp in Surabaya. PHOTO: AFP
Given the significant role of mangrove and peatland ecosystems, the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) is drafting a road map for the management of wetlands for mangrove and peatland forests to support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
"The road map is one of the instruments supporting the important pillars to achieve Indonesia's Vision 2045, namely sustainable economic development," Bappenas deputy head for maritime affairs and natural resources Arifin Rudiyanto says.
Mangrove and peatland ecosystems have multiple benefits, which can potentially support areas such as economic growth, creative economy, tourism, maritime interests, food security, water resources and the environment, he adds.