Oil company plants mangroves to offset pollution
The state-owned oil and gas company, PT Pertamina, organized a mangrove planting drive at two beaches, one in Serangan and another one at Mertasari, Sanur, on Thursday afternoon. As many as 10,000 mangrove seedlings were planted by Pertamina’s employees and locals in the event aimed at showcasing the company’s commitment toward environmental conservation.
“Pertamina has a social responsibility [to conserve nature], because the company is indirectly responsible for generating pollution through motorized vehicles that use fuel produced by Pertamina.
Therefore, it is critical for us to organize programs like this to offset the pollution,” Pertamina’s regional general manager of fuel and retail marketing, Afandi, said.
According to Afandi, the program, which is called Sobat Bumi (Earth’s Buddy), was also set to show the company’s commitment and support toward the 1 Billion Trees Movement launched by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The company has set a target of planting 100 million trees across the country in the next five years.
“This year we are targeting planting 5 million trees across the country.”
The mangrove was selected due to its solid ability to produce oxygen, as well as absorb carbon gases. Furthermore, mangrove forests can contain beach erosion and play a critical role as the breeding ground for a large number of fish species, which in turn have an economic value for people living near the forest.
“They [mangrove forests] could even be developed into an integrated eco-tourism destination,” he added.
The resort island has suffered vast coastal erosion that poses a grave threat to its tourist beaches. Data from 2010 showed that out of the island’s total 437-kilometer shoreline, 102 kilometers had been damaged by sea erosion. Data from the Bali Environment office said that Bali’s 48 beaches had undergone acute erosion, so much so that 181.7 kilometers of land had been lost this last decade, which amounted to 41.5 percent of the island’s total shoreline. Uncontrolled development and environmental degradation, including the diminishing mangrove forests, have been blamed for this condition.
Wayan Patut, an environmental activist who participated in Pertamina’s mangrove planting drive, warned that such an initiative must have a clear follow-up tree maintenance program. He pointed out that many NGOs had carried out similar mangrove planting drives in the past and 80 percent of the mangrove seedlings they planted ended up dead.
“The reason behind this failure is quite simple: They didn’t follow up the planting with regular care for the trees and the areas around the trees,” he said, adding that mangrove trees needed nurturing by cleaning up sea clams that attached themselves to the trunks, as well as removing plastic trash that covered the roots.
“If the trees are regularly taken care of in the three-month period after planting, then they would have a much better chance of survival,” he said.
Patut has initiated a successful coral rehabilitation program in Serangan, a formerly tiny island that has grown to thrice its initial size due to a massive land reclamation project aimed at setting the stage for a sprawling tourism megaproject.
The reclamation inflicted devastating damage on the island’s coastal ecosystem. The government acknowledged Patut’s achievement in 2011 by bestowing upon him the prestigious Kalpataru environmental award.
“The people of Serangan plan to draft an agreement that will make it obligatory for any party planting mangroves in Serangan to also carry out regular maintenance of the trees. So far Pertamina has yet to express its willingness to enter into an agreement.”