Pongo-dopsi: Working with local communities to preserve coastal areas

18 April 2023
Dwi Riyan

Located on the island of Borneo, Ketapang is one of the largest regencies in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province. With an area of 31,588 sq km, it has various ecosystems, including peatlands, rainforests and even coastal areas populated bycharismatic animals such as orangutans, hornbills and turtles.

An orangutan. Photo: World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

However, the area’s biodiversity faces several  threats, including forest conversion to agriculture, fires, and mangrove displacement. These activities are adversely affecting many endemic animals, and this imbalance will eventually become detrimental to humans.

Mangrove displacement in Tanjung Baik Budi

On the other hand, the village of Tanjung Baik Budi has the potential to produce an abundance of fishery products and good farmland. Most people obtain their livelihoods through agriculture. However, the community’s economic activities are threatened by seawater intrusion into agricultural land, causing a decrease in soil fertility. More than 9.4 hectares of mangrove have already been degraded in Tanjung Baik Budi.

This will be exacerbated by a mining company that plans to build a smelter in the coastal zone area around the village, destroying the surrounding mangrove forests. This will also reduce the production capacity of the farmland, and seawater intrusion will affect the surrounding ecosystem, potentially even reducing the oxygen available to fish and other marine life due to chemical interactions between seawater and fertilizers used by locals in the coastal area.

Drone imagery of Tanjung Baik Budi

We are the Pongo Ranger Community, a youth organization in Ketapang taking immediate action to tackle these problems. We launched Pongo-dopsi in 2021 by planting 1,000 mangroves as our first project, and we are ensuring that coastal ecosystems recover in collaboration with various stakeholders including local communities. It’s important that local communities develop a sense of belonging as they will be critical actors in restoring coastal ecosystems. This year, Pongo Ranger will plant 2,000 mangroves through the GLF’s Restoration Stewards program.

Pongo-dopsi acitivity

This program also filled the absence of NGOs by focusing on conservation in the Ketapang coastal area. The local government only plants mangroves once a year without further monitoring to ensure their growth. We want to present our organization as one that complements existing activities by other stakeholders, as well as share what we have observed to work well based on local wisdom from the community. 

Short Video : Pongo-dopsi 2021

Through the Pongo-dopsi program, we hope that Pongo Ranger can pioneer the Ketapang coastal conservation movement by involving various stakeholders, the government, local communities, and NGOs. This collaboration will lead to a healthier Ketapang coastal ecosystem in the future and ensure the productivity of its farmland, which will secure local livelihoods for future generations. 

By Shafa Fakhira, social media specialist, Pongo Ranger Community

Edited by Dwi Riyan, 2023 Restoration Stewards

Dwi Riyan

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Supporting partners 2023

Supporting partners

The Restoration Stewards program provides funding, mentorship and training to deepen the impact of youth-led restoration projects. The year-long program is run by the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) under the banner of Generation Restoration to support and highlight the work of eight young restoration practitioners and their teams in 2023.

During the program, the Restoration Stewards and their teams are  supported to further develop their project and serve as ambassadors at both global and local levels. Globally, the Restoration Stewards share their journeys in a series of vlogs and blogs documenting their stories of inspiration and challenges and participate in different international events to showcase their work. Locally, they are sparking a restoration movement, mobilizing local communities and creating pathways to connect, share, learn, and act for livelihoods and landscapes.