Regional administrations and the public should pay more attention to mangrove forests, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said during a visit to a mangrove conservation park in North Jakarta on Monday.
Protecting and rehabilitating mangrove forests is crucial as failure to do so will lead to ecosystem degradation and considerable threats to underground water reserves, particularly in coastal areas, Yudhoyono said while in a rubber dinghy during a survey of Muara Angke conservation park.
Yudhoyono also asked regional administrations specifically to increase budgets for environmental protection and restoration efforts.
“I call for all regional leaders, especially those in Sumatra, Java and other regions with large mangrove forests to conduct rehabilitation and reforestation efforts seriously.”
“I ask mayors to increase environmental protection budgets. This call is addressed to mayors around Jakarta and also in other provinces,” he added.
The President said he wanted sufficient funding, enough forest rangers and officers to monitor the country’s mangrove forests, and to develop community-based rehabilitation activities that involved local people.
“I will monitor the implementation as part of my responsibility as a leader,” he said.
Yudhoyono also said that the private sector had a roll in protecting mangrove forests.
Forestry Minister Zulkilfi Hasan, who accompanied the President during the visit, said Muara Angke mangrove conservation park covered 99.82 hectares.
It was a small remnant of forests that existed before many years of massive development projects along North Jakarta’s coasts, he added.
Efforts to rehabilitate mangrove forests in the area had met obstacles from the illegal activities of local fishermen, who had cut down trees to create fish ponds, Zulkifli said.
Salt water from the ocean has contaminated underground water reserves in northern Jakarta at an increasing rate over the last several years due to the decreasing size of mangrove forests, said independent reports.