"In 1982, Indonesias mangrove forests covered 3.2 million hectares, of which 1.7 million hectares have been cleared for other purposes until the year 2014," Peoples Coalition for Fisheries Justice (Kiara) Secretary General Abdul Halim remarked here on Thursday.
Initiated by the Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi), Kiara is a non-profit organization to protect and defend the fishermen and people living in coastal regions and small islands.
Abdul noted that in the past, Indonesias mangrove forests spanned 3.2 million hectares, or 22 percent of the worlds total area of mangrove forests with a high level of biodiversity.
"But, the unrestricted development of fish ponds for aquaculture along the coastal areas has led to the disappearance of millions of hectares of mangrove forests," Abdul emphasized.
He pointed out that the other causes include the expansion of palm oil plantations by clearing mangroves and deprivation of coastal areas for the fish processing industry and reclamation.
"Mangrove fruits can actually be processed into food, beverage, taffy, and soap to improve the lives of coastal area dwellers, but many of its forest areas have been destroyed for other purposes," Abdul remarked.
Referring to the data collected by Kiara so far, he stated that as many as 30 districts or municipalities are currently reclaiming coastal areas, which will lead to the destruction of mangrove forests and will eventually deprive the coastal area dwellers of their living space.
According to the data, Abdul stated that based on the functions and benefits of mangroves, the disappearance of mangrove forests could cause potential losses amounting to around Rp30 trillion per year.
"Therefore, the government should spend at least Rp60 trillion to revitalize mangrove forests across the country," he added.(*)