Based on data from the Southeast Sulawesi Maritime and Fisheries Service, mangrove forests, covering an area of 6,053 hectares, are spread across six coastal areas in the district of Bombana.
Mangrove forests in Bombana are located on the small islands of Kabaena, Sagori, Kambing, Canggoreng, Mangata, and Hantu, but most have been looted and damaged by irresponsible local people.
A seafood producer, named Supriyansah Yusuf, stated that the preservation of mangrove forests must be a shared responsibility between the local government and the community.
Similar to coral reefs, mangrove forests are extremely productive ecosystems that provide numerous good services both to the marine environment and the people.
Mangrove forests are home to a large variety of fish, crab, shrimp, and mollusk species. These marine species form an essential source of food for thousands of coastal communities around the world.
The forests also serve as nurseries for many fish species, including coral reef fish.
A study on the Mesoamerican reef, for example, showed that there are as many as 25 times more species of fish on reefs close to mangrove areas than in areas where mangroves have been cut down. This makes mangrove forests vitally important to coral reef and commercial fisheries as well.
Given the diversity of life inhabiting mangrove systems and their proximity in many cases to other tourist attractions, such as coral reefs and sandy beaches, a few countries have started to tap into the tourism potential of their mangrove forests.
Along the coast of Kendari Bay in Southeast Sulawesi, there are also mangrove forests in Lahundape, Purirano, and Bungkutoko Island that have been developed into leading ecotourism destinations in the city of Kendari.
Kendari municipal government has recently inaugurated the three mangrove ecotourism areas, and this time, they continue to attract a lot of visitors from the city of Kendari and beyond almost every day.
Seeing the increasing number of visitors to these three mangrove ecotourism areas, the Kendari municipal government has involved the local communities to manage the areas.
The local communities are involved in the management of Lahundape, Purirano, and Bungkutoko mangrove ecotourism areas, so that they can also have a sense of belonging and can participate in preserving these areas from encroachment by irresponsible parties.
Lahundape, Purirano, and Bungkutoko are mangrove ecotourism areas along the coast of Kendari Bay that involve local communities in managing the mangrove trekking areas.
People who are involved in the mangrove trekking management of more than 35 hectares will get a huge profit from parking revenues from tourists who visit the mangrove forests.
Hence, the mangrove ecotourism areas in Kendari must not be encroached, so that they can be properly controlled with the involvement of local communities.
The local government of Kendari City is making every effort to preserve mangrove forests as the laboratories of nature.
Mangrove trees are not foreign to the people of the city. Mangroves have lot of benefits, as they maintain environmental balance and serve as a natural laboratory.
Therefore, the local people continue to preserve these mangrove forests that are also spread in numerous areas in the city of Kendari, in the villages of Tondonggeu, Sambuli, Purirano, Korumba, Lahundape, Anggoeya, and around the island of Bungkutoko.
In Bungkutoko Island, the mangrove forests are being developed into mangrove trekking areas for educational tourism in coordination with the local communities.
This small island, located just at the mouth of Kendari Bay and off the coast of Kendari city, is surrounded by white sandy beaches and very dense mangrove forests with many different species of birds.
With its beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, and pristine waters, Bungkutoko Island has long been a favorite destination for visitors and local residents alike.
On the island of Bungkutoko, there are numerous pristine mangrove forests, where tourists enjoy trekking.
Tourists who come to this island will have the opportunity to explore the mangrove forest ecosystem, to fish, and to enjoy the variety of flora and fauna.
In addition to Bungkutoko Island, all the mangrove forests along the coast of Kendari will also be preserved, because they have a lot of benefits for humans and the environment.
Therefore, the Kendari city administration has been asked to involve investors, in addition to local communities, in managing the mangrove trekking areas.
Involving investors in managing the Bungkutoko mangrove trekking areas can boost the local revenue earned from the management of the region.
Besides mangrove tourism, underwater tourism is also attracting visitors to the island of Bungkutoko.
Tourists who come to the island can also go surfing, diving, and snorkeling.
Underwater ecosystems and mangrove forests around the island can be the mainstay attractions in Kendari, because Bungkutoko island ecosystem is relatively good compared to other small islands there.
Spending just a day or two on the Bungkutoko Island will not be enough for visitors to enjoy the hospitality of the local community and their interesting culture and traditions, and to relish the beauty of nature at sunrise.
In addition to the natural panorama of the coast, the underwater world of Bungkutoko Island, with various types of coral reefs, species of fish, and other marine biota, is extremely appealing.
Therefore, the Kendari city government is making every effort to develop the 500-hectare island of Bungkutoko as a tourist attraction by promoting it through a variety of tourism activities aimed at domestic and foreign tourists.
Edited by INE