"The Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry should immediately stop the conversion of mangrove forests into palm oil plantations and shrimp/fish ponds by businessmen," President Director of Walhi North Sumatra Dana Prima Tarigan stated here, Monday.
Some 650 hectares of mangrove forest in Secanggang were converted into palm oil plantation and ponds.
The damage caused to mangrove forests must be stopped and restoration be initiated.
"Those exploiting the mangrove forest must be sanctioned firmly to deter similar action in future," she noted.
Mangrove damage could trigger flooding and tsunami, she remarked, adding that owing to its location in the coastal area, the mangrove forest could mitigate the impact of tsunami.
Besides this, the mangrove forest is useful in preserving the marine biota, as it serves as a habitat for fish and other species, such as crabs, shrimps, and event monkeys.
Heru Winarto, head of the Wampu and Sei Ular River Basin Areas Management Office, noted that mangrove replanting is crucial to restoring the damage caused to mangrove forest.
Some two thousand mangrove trees were recently planted, and five thousand more will be planted soon. The mangrove tree seedlings were provided by the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry.