Regarding the mangrove (conservation) program, we have good news, Belitung is a strong candidate for being a location to implement cooperation with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a Mangrove Research Centre.
Pangkalpinang, Bangka Belitung (ANTARA) - Mangrove forests in Belitung District, Bangka Belitung Islands Province, not only prevent coastal abrasion but also serve as a tourism paradise that showcases the district's natural beauty.

The plethora of natural wealth of Belitung District, such as the Belitong UNESCO Global Geoparks, Tanjung Kelayang Special Economic Zone (SEZ), as well as a 750-year-old mangrove forest -- the oldest mangrove ecosystem in the world -- is acknowledged globally.

Belitung District, which is currently included in the 10 most popular tourism destinations in Indonesia, also has various other interesting tourism attractions, including beaches, historical sites, culinary spots, museums, caves, and shopping centers.

Hence, the G20 Development Ministerial Meeting hosted by the region on September 7-9, 2022, will offer a great opportunity to promote Belitung Islands' tourism potentials to the world.

The meeting aims to discuss developmental issues in least developed countries, developing countries, and small developing island countries.

Deputy for Coordination of Environmental and Forestry Management at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Nani Hendiarti, noted that the mangrove forest in Belitung District not only draws tourists but also global researchers and scientists.

"Regarding the mangrove (conservation) program, we have good news, Belitung is a strong candidate for being a location to implement cooperation with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a Mangrove Research Centre," she stated.

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Tourism Promotion

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno was optimistic that the natural beauty of Belitung District would be able to become one of the prominent attractions at the 2022 Kharisma Event Nusantara (KEN).

The event held by the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry aims to promote local tourism destinations and increase tourism visits from various countries to be able to empower the local community.

The increasing number of overseas tourists will also have multiplier effects on the economic, social, and cultural sectors of the area, especially during the implementation of the G20 Development Ministerial Meeting.

Participants of the meeting are expected to highlight aspects related to the beauty, hospitality, and safety of Indonesia’s tourism destinations, especially those in Belitung District, to the people in their respective countries

"Natural tourism objects in Bangka Belitung are beautiful, and the food is delicious," Uno noted.

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Governor of Bangka Belitung Islands Erzaldi Rosman Djohan stated that Belitung Island has myriad extraordinary natural wealth.

For instance, the mangrove forest located on Langer Island, Belitung District, is said to be one of the oldest mangrove ecosystems in the world, as currently it is estimated to be 750 years old.

To promote the mangrove forest to the international community, the governor has planned to make Langer Island as one of the tourism spots that will be visited by G20 delegations.

In addition to visiting several destinations, the delegates are scheduled to partake in the planting of coral reefs; visit a micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) exhibition; as well as witness a cultural festival.

The activities are expected to improve the economy of the local community.

"We enliven the G20 (event) with these activities and widely involve the community. Thus, the momentum will be able to empower the economy of the community as well as maintain and preserve the environment," Djohan remarked.

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Mangrove Conservation

As one of the attempts to preserve the ecosystem, the head of East Belitung District, Burhanudin, inaugurated a mangrove literacy house.

The program, which was initiated by the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) as well as the Environmental Council of Muhammadiyah, aims to boost the level of enthusiasm of the community to conserve the ecosystem.

According to the Environment and Forestry Ministry's data, Indonesia has the most diverse and largest mangrove area in the world, reaching 3.36 million hectares, or about 20 percent of the world's mangrove area.

As one of the commitments to conserving the ecosystem, the government had issued Presidential Regulation Number 120 of 2020 concerning BRGM.

"East Belitung is also one of the mangrove rehabilitation areas in Indonesia. It is also one of the reasons why East Belitung District was chosen by the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency as a (location to establish the) mangrove literacy house," the district head stated.

Mangrove forests have important benefits and roles for the current community and the future generations. Hence, the importance of maintaining the ecosystem should be disseminated to the public as early as possible.

Meanwhile, BRGM's Deputy for Education and Dissemination as well as Participation and Partnership, Myrna A. Safitri, noted that establishment of the mangrove literacy house aimed to increase understanding and boost the spirit of youngsters in the region to preserve the ecosystem.

Apart from government and non-governmental institutions, efforts to preserve the mangrove forests is also made by the local community.

Head of Belitung District's Seberang Bersatu Community Forest Group, Marwandi, said that his side started a donation for mangrove and coral reef conservation in the area to support mitigation of the impacts of climate change.

According to Directorate General of Social Forestry and Environmental Partnerships at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, community forest is one of the social forestry schemes granted by the government to the community to manage and utilize forest areas to improve the people’s welfare and environmental sustainability.

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The community forest group has prepared a 165-hectare plot of land for mangrove planting as well as a 300-hectare area for the conservation of coral reefs.

To facilitate the public to transfer their donations for the conservation activity, the group launched an application for Donation and Adoption of Mangrove and Coral Reefs called "Si Mangco."

Donation for planting one mangrove tree reaches Rp5 thousand (US$0.34), while donation for fostering the tree is Rp15 thousand to Rp20 thousand (US$1.01 to US$1.34) per year.

Meanwhile, donation for the preservation of coral reefs reaches about Rp1 million to Rp1.5 million (US$67.24 to US$100.85) per one square meter.

"The (open) donation for the mangroves and coral reefs (conservation) is an attempt to restore coastal ecosystems damaged by tin ore mining activities in the past,” Marwandi added.

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Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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