Creating jobs through mangrove restoration 


By Shafa Fakhira, social media specialist, Pongo Ranger Community
Edited by Dwi Riyan, 2023 Wetland Restoration Steward and Pongo Ranger Community co-founder

All images courtesy of the Pongo Ranger Community

Our highly anticipated planting event finally took place on 3 March 2024. This was the culmination of all our efforts in the Restoration Stewards program, including online campaigns, workshops and community discussions. Looking back, some of the planning that we had initially decided upon in December 2023, in terms of the optimal time for planting, was hindered by unfavorable weather conditions. 

Due to high tides and strong winds along the coast, it was not feasible to proceed with planting earlier. Instead, after discussing with farmers, we rescheduled the event for March. We’re giving it our all, but sometimes things happen beyond our control. The decision was made after lengthy deliberation related to the desired growth rate of the mangrove. 

Early on Sunday morning, we headed to Tanjung Baik Budi, Ketapang, where we had a brief meeting with the local farmers to ensure that everything ran smoothly. The journey from the city to Tanjung Baik Budi takes about an hour, and we dedicated three hours, from 7:00 to 10:00 local time, to plant the mangroves. 

Our team consisted of six Pongo Rangers working alongside seven farmers, including the head of the local village group, whose presence greatly uplifted our spirits.

A short briefing before planting. Kusnadi/Pongo Ranger Community

Prior to our community planting event, both the Pongo Ranger team and the local farmers had dedicated roughly three months to cultivating mangrove seedlings in our nursery. We patiently waited until the seedlings had developed strong roots and sprouted leaves before planting them directly in our designated area.

Our team consists of Pongo Rangers and farmers on the planting day. Kusnadi/Pongo Ranger Community

Our original goal was to plant 2,000 mangroves in one go, but we decided to split this effort into two batches: 800 seedlings were planted on 3 March,  followed by the remaining 1,200 on 9 March. Throughout this process, we learned some valuable lessons.

The proximity of our nursery to the planting site posed challenges as the tide flooded the nursery, resulting in the loss of some seedlings. As a result, we had to replace 1,200 seedlings to meet our target, as we had committed to at the beginning of our tenure with the Restoration Stewards program. 

Additionally, by observing the tide and wind conditions in the area, we learned that planting is most effective between May and July when the tide is low, giving the seedlings a better chance to thrive.

We planted seedlings using a block system for every 100 mangroves. Kusnadi/Pongo Ranger Community

To enhance the resilience of seedlings against the waves, we adopted a block system for planting, with 100 mangroves in each block, totaling 20 blocks. After planting, we will closely monitor the mangroves at one-week, two-week, and one-month intervals, which is crucial for promptly identifying and replacing any damaged seedlings.

During our efforts, one of the participating farmers expressed their appreciation for the mangrove restoration program and expressed hope that it would lead to increased marine product yields. Although fishing isn’t the primary occupation in the area, revitalizing the mangrove ecosystem could provide additional livelihood options for the surrounding community. 

During our project activities, a participating farmer expressed appreciation for the mangrove restoration program and voiced hopes for enhanced marine productivity, which could potentially augment household income. This was testament to the impact of our work, as it confirmed that the rehabilitation of mangrove ecosystems can help diversify economic opportunities in the community.

The predominant occupation in Tanjung Baik Budi is agriculture, with women typically assuming roles as housewives or providing assistance to their spouses in agricultural pursuits to supplement family finances. Some women also engage in entrepreneurial endeavors such as selling traditional snacks or making weaving products to sell later on. However, these efforts mostly involve small to medium-scale activities and do not necessarily provide a stable income. 

Through the restoration initiative, our overarching goal is to expand employment prospects in the community to build its economic resilience. Each time we plant, we aim not only to restore the coastal ecosystem but also to introduce the community to a broader network.

The NGOs in our regencies, the planting activities they carry out, and the local government’s restoration programs all help create a market for sustainable products in the community by using reusable bags made from dried nipa leaves by local women. 

While it may take time and require more collaborative action, we hope this can be our first step in not only restoring a mangrove ecosystem but also creating opportunities for the local community.

Follow Pongo Ranger Community for more updates about this program.