When you are enjoying beaches in a tropical country, you may see distinctive trees that rise from a tangle of roots wriggling out of the mud. These trees are called mangrove. Mangroves are amazing since they are able to survive inundation by salt water. In fact, mangroves can grow very well in the extreme conditions of estuaries with two key adaptations, the ability to survive in waterlogged and anoxic (no oxygen) soil and the ability to bear the brunt of ocean-borne storms and hurricanes. Most of mangroves live on muddy soil, but some also grow on sand, peat, and coral rock. They live in water up to 100 times saltier than most plants can tolerate.
Indonesia has the largest area of mangrove forest in the world. About 3 million hectares of mangrove forest are along Indonesia’s 95,000 km coastline. This is 23 percent of all mangrove ecosystems in the world (Giri et al., 2011). Mangrove forests are found in many parts of Indonesia, with regionally important mangrove ecosystems located in Papua, Kalimantan and Sumatra (FAO, 2007).
Mangroves have many uses. As widely reported, extensive areas of mangroves can reduce by 75 percent the damage caused by tsunami, cyclones, and other storms. Other benefits mangroves bring into the marine ecology are: 1. providing animal shelter; 2. providing nesting areas for coastal birds; 3. providing basis of a complex marine food chain; and 4. protecting coastlines using the intricate above-ground root systems.
Since mangroves grow along the coastlines, lagoons, and estuaries, their domain has been significantly reduced by land reclamation and bulk heading of waterfront property for development. As large part of Indonesia’s coastal zones has been severely damaged, there is a need to restore and to implement sustainable coastal zone management. Human interest and respect towards environment must be increased in order to maintain and preserve natural resources. Natural resources provide what is necessary for humans to thrive, hence, its protection should be a priority.
On July 11-16, 2016, the Forum of Young Scientist Teenager of Jabodetabek region (FOSCA) held an event called Science Camp. The event was held to raise youth interest towards nature and introduce them to basic research. One of the agenda of the Science Camp is mangrove research and observation. A team consist of five students had a research in three spots; Pramuka Island, Karya Island and Panggang Island. The research was made together with experts from the Thousand Island National Park. Mangrove planting is done using Spaced Cluster method, the nationally-approved method for planting mangroves on small islands using coral sand as the medium.
The purpose of the research was to measure success rate of mangrove tree planting and growth rate of mangrove trees. It was an exploratory research using a quantitative approach which includes the data of mangrove trees height and length of the leaves, length of the roots, and also the diameter of stems and branches. The students identified the various species of mangrove and came up with a conclusion that Rhizophora mucronata had the highest ability to adapt, hence it is easy to live in the research location. In general, the growth rate of mangrove trees showed good results.
Removal or degradation of mangroves results in higher erosion, which will increase the turbidity (amount of particles and sediment in the water) of coastal and reverie waters. Development and population growth will have the tendency to continue in creating negative impact on mangrove habitat. The future of mangrove and other natural resources depends on our will and action. Let’s save nature!
Arief A. (2003). Hutan mangrove fungsi dan manfaatnya. Yogyakarta: Kanisius.
By Anggi Nurqonita, ASEAN Correspondent from Indonesia