Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA News) - Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said Bali`s Ngurah Rai mangrove forest area could become a mangrove conservation pilot project on account of its good condition.

"The mangrove forests in the Ngurah Rai area are very dense so this region can rightly serve as a mangrove conservation pilot project," the minister said after observing the forests on Saturday morning. .

Therefore, he said, the local government and the people of Bali should maintain and preserve the mangrove forests in the Ngurah Rai area.

"All elements of the public and the local government must take care of and preserve these forests as they are an essential component in the region`s ecological balance," Zulkifli said, adding that mangrove forests fulfill many functions such as preventing land abrasion and cushioning tsunamis.

According to the minister, 3.2 million or 41.9 percent of Indonesia`s 7.7 million hectares of mangrove forests were now in damaged condition with 2.2 million hectares seriously degraded.

He said the damage had mainly been caused by man-made encroachments such as activities to build settlements, fish ponds, and plantations.

"As an ecosystem, mangrove forests have physical, biological, ecological, and economical functions but most of them have been damaged," the minister said.

Therefore, he added, mangrove forests should be preserved and managed properly and rehabilitated when they were damaged.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2011