Mangrove forests can store five times more greenhouse gases than inland forests, he said.
Indonesia now has 3.5 million hectares of mangrove forests, making it one of the countries in the world with the largest area of mangrove forests, he said.
"One-fourth of the world's mangrove forests is found in Indonesia. The rehabilitation of mangrove forests tops the list of the Indonesian government's priorities. The rehabilitation includes a social forestry program that President Joko Widodo has introduced," said Santosa who represented Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti at the meeting.
Elsewhere, Deputy for Natural Resources and Services Coordination of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs Agung Kuswandono also encouraged efforts to raise the issue of mangroves on a national platform due to the disappearance from Indonesia of 1.8 million hectares of these forests.
"Many parties handle mangroves in Indonesia. We should have rehabilitated these 1.8 million hectares but to no avail. If we cultivate mangroves, the activity is merely ceremonial in nature and the mangrove is only planted in certain areas. In fact, the mangrove forests from Sabang to Merauke have been damaged," he said.
In addition, the government needs to commit itself to make mangroves one of the national issues. This means that budget allocations for the rehabilitation of mangroves must top the list of priorities, he said.
He revealed some new approaches to rehabilitate mangrove forests.
"The most urgent step is that we must map areas which will be designated for mangrove conservation and, thereafter, we must plan coastal zones and islets. So each province must make a spatial layout regulation to decide which one is for industry, mining, tourism, ecosystem, environment conservation and so on," he said. (INE)
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