Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) concurred on starting cooperation in mangrove rehabilitation in future after discussing the program at a meeting between delegations of both nations in Dubai, the UAE, earlier this week.

Deputy for Coordination of Environment and Forestry Management at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Nani Hendiarti, met with Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE Abdullah Mohammad Bel Haif Al Nuaimi on Monday (Oct 26) to discuss Indonesia's mangrove rehabilitation program.

Attendees at the meeting also comprised representatives from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Indonesian Ambassador to the UAE Husin Bagis.

"Naturally, mangroves function as coast protectors from big waves, absorb carbon, and produce oxygen as well as offer shelter and a conducive environment for fish spawning. Hence, this cooperation in implementing mangrove rehabilitation between Indonesia and the UAE is very important and of urgent nature for both parties," Hendiarti noted in a statement here on Saturday.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, mangrove rehabilitation activities through the labor-intensive program launched by the government were found to have facilitated the economic recovery process of affected coastal communities, according to Hendiarti.

Multi-stakeholder contributions, including from the UAE, are deemed necessary to support Indonesia's mangrove rehabilitation program, targeted to reach 600 thousand hectares within the next four years, as conveyed by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan during a visit to Brebes on October 22, 2020.

"Hence, this bilateral cooperation program for mangrove rehabilitation should be implemented immediately," she affirmed.

During the meeting, the Indonesian government also offered mangrove species from Indonesia for conservation and rehabilitation in the UAE.

The Indonesian government also submitted a proposal for development of a Mangrove Mega Project, spanning an area of at least 10 thousand hectares in a span of four years, which was welcomed by Minister Abdullah Mohammad Bel Haif Al Nuaimi.

Minister Abdullah Al Nuaimi lauded Indonesia that has high natural resource potential and expressed keenness to continue the sound relations that have existed so far. Meanwhile, Ambassador Bagis responded positively to Minister Nuaimi's aspirations and urged the cooperation agreement to be implemented immediately.

During the working visit on October 26-29, 2020, the Indonesian delegation also visited the Umm Al Quwain Marine Research Center established in 1984 in collaboration with JICA, which has several laboratory facilities, including the Water Quality Analysis Lab, Marine Biology Lab, Plastic Micro Lab, Plankton Lab, and Fisheries Lab.

Hendiarti also suggested activities to be conducted during this pandemic, specifically planting mangrove species from Indonesia to help enrich and expand the mangrove area of the UAE.

The delegation later also visited the Al Zawra Protected Area, spanning an area of 5.4 million square meters, comprising a mangrove forest area of 2,200 hectares that grows naturally.

The Indonesian delegation planted mangrove trees as a token of support from the Indonesian government for bilateral cooperation in mangrove rehabilitation between the two countries.

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Translator: Ade Irma J, Fardah
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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