Coastal areas in Indonesia, so far have always been synonymous with areas that are left behind and are places where the poor live. This view is also attached to Langge Village in Anggrek District, North Gorontalo Regency, Gorontalo Province. That coastal village, before 2016 was a village that bore that title.
The head of Langge Village Ato Ali admits that the village he leads is no different from other coastal villages in Gorontalo, even in Indonesia. In addition to the majority of the population working as fishermen, in his village before 2016, many residents held the title of poor.
“But that was before, as soon as 2017 entered, the future began to be seen in this village,” he said when meeting Mongabay Indonesia at Langge, last week.
What is meant by the future, said Ato, is when the mangrove forest area ( mangrove ) becomes a tourist area that can be accessed by the general public. After the mangroves in Langge became a tourist area, since then the income of the local community has started to change.
Ato said that the beginning of the change in his village occurred after the Central Government through the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) collaborated with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an institution under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), implemented a program Coastal Community Development Project (CCDP) or the Coastal Community Development Project (PPMP).
The program, one of which took place in Langge Village, began in 2013. The program, he said, focused on carrying out development in coastal areas and leveraging all the economic potential in them.
“Incidentally, Langge has a lot of potential too. So, they chose our village as a construction site,” he said.
The Enchantment of Mangrove Forests
One of the potentials in Langge is a vast area of mangrove forest which is the largest in North Gorontalo. Before 2017, the 10-hectare area was always the target of residents from outside Langge Village. Mangrove trees in the coastal forest are always taken and used as fuel.
“That happened before 2017. Finally, in early 2017 we started to build the mangrove area into a tourist area,” he explained.
The choice of tourism, according to Ato, is based on the consideration that it will generate economic value, aka money. Previously, he said, residents used to take mangrove stems and sell them at a pretty good economic value. However, if these activities are prohibited, the economic value will be lost instantly.
“That’s why, when it was banned, residents questioned what the benefits would be if it became a tourist area. Because the income (money) will be lost. So, mangrove tracking was made to attract tourists,” he said.
To be able to build a mangrove tourism area complete with pedestrian paths, Ato said, the Village Government rolled out development funds and was fully supported by the IFAD CCPD. Thanks to this support, the development funds were divided in half and this made it easier for the Village Government.
After the construction is completed, the tourist area called Mangrove in Love can look beautiful because the pedestrian paths are built to form a heart or love icon in English. This beauty can especially be enjoyed when viewed from above or using a drone camera.
Thomas Gabriel, a guard at the entrance to the Mangrove in Love area, explained that the pedestrian path that tourists can follow is 180 meters long. In addition, there is also a 120-meter-long boat mooring that stretches straight and serves as an entrance to the location.
When Mongabay Indonesia walks along the pedestrian path, the scenery that appears on the right and left of the path is dense mangrove forests. The fresh air immediately fell as soon as the feet set foot on the path. On the sidelines of the mangrove forest, you can see eight breeding boxes measuring 4×4 meters for mud crabs.
The beauty that is visible right in front of your eyes is even more complete because, at the end of the pedestrian path, which is also the entrance to the location, there are a number of stalls selling handicrafts and snacks typical of Gorontalo. In the building, there are also public toilets and places of worship.
Apart from mangrove tourism, a similar concept was also built in Dunu Village, Monano District, North Gorontalo. There, there is a marine tourism development located at Tanjung Turtle Beach. As the name implies, there is turtle conservation at this location which was initiated by a group of residents in the village.
As a marine tourism area, Tanjung Turtle Beach offers the beauty of beach tourism for visitors who come. With a white sand beach and a bright blue sky as a backdrop, anyone who comes will be impressed and feel comfortable.
Apart from focusing on developing marine tourism in Langge Village and Dunu Village, the IFAD CCDP program in North Gorontalo also focuses on developing the creativity of the people in the two villages. In Langge, for example, residents were also initiated to develop their abilities in the fishing, fish farming, and processing industries.
Langge Village Facilitator, Nurcahya, explained, in Langge there are eight groups divided into two, independent and still crawling. Each of these groups consists of four and are currently continuing to develop themselves.
Among those that have not yet developed, according to Nurcahya, is a cultivation group that grows seaweed. The group always failed when it was time to harvest, and it happened again and again. The reason, he said, is still being sought and studied.
“Maybe because the waters are polluted. Now they are growing spin some type of seaweed which is resistant to all weather conditions. It works, but the price is also cheap in the market. So this group is still not successful economically,” he said.
Asap Tahar, one of the seaweed cultivators in Langge Village, admits that growing seaweed in Langge waters is no longer good. This condition was much different when he was in the same business from 2001 to 2003. At that time, seaweed could live up to 45 days.
“But now, less than a month, the seaweed must be harvested. I am confused why the sea (water) here has changed. If more than a month is not harvested, the seaweed will die,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Hamsah Usman, who is also involved in the seaweed cultivation business with the group, admits that cultivating seaweed, for now, is not as good as it used to be. Currently, in a year, the maximum production time can only be done for six months.
Both Hamsah, Asap, and other residents, it is hoped that the failure that occurred in the seaweed cultivation business can be solved soon. This is because local residents in their daily life are very dependent on the coastal economy.
North Gorontalo Regent Indra Yasin said his area currently holds the title of the longest coastline in Gorontalo Province. From this stretch of coast, there are 78 coastal villages where the majority of the population works as fishermen.
To be able to compete with non-coastal villages that have a variety of professions, Indra said, his party must carry out various innovations and provide a lot of training to the community. According to him, the program implemented by the IFAD CCDP is the right program, because it is implemented in a coastal area that requires skills.
From a Hunter to a Forest Fern Seeder at the Foot of Mount Raung
The local people call it Mbah Kebo. This name was obtained from the Kebo ferns that he planted in the forest in the Foot Raung area, Banyuwangi, East Java.
Before being known as Kebo, this man whose birth name was Ariawan claimed to be a thug and a hunter in his village. The green and dense mountains are explored to test your courage and show your shooting skills.
“I hunt for entertainment. Shoot birds, wild boar, squirrels, monkeys,” said Kebo whose stature supports his call. Tall, big, and hairy. This habit reverses when nature calls for it. Two years ago he joined the rafting business with other friends in Sumber Bulu Village, Songgon, Banyuwangi. It’s called Karo Adventure. Derived from the name Kaki Raong or it can also be a local language that means adventure.
All their skills are devoted to further advancing the joint venture that utilizes the rocky river in their village. Including developing ideas and acting on how to keep the river area green. The forest remains shady so that water is cleaner and filtered by tree roots.
In certain seasons, the river water discharge drops, and this makes it difficult to continue the rafting business. They learn how to keep the water discharge maintained.
The often turbid river water is also the focus of this community’s attention. One of the reasons, according to Kebo, is the cultivation and processing of watercress vegetables by the local community. “Pink lettuce must be in the water, 20-30 days later harvested and washed. The muddy rice fields flow into the river,” said Kebo.
He and his colleagues thought that this watercress business should be diverted to types of vegetables that are easier to cultivate and have high economic value. So that people are more interested.
When walking in the middle of the forest, Kebo’s attention fell on ferns that could live under tree trees or forest protectors such as mahogany and pine. This vegetable is also delicious cooked. According to him, residents like to take ferns from the forest but don’t replant them. The result is easy to run out.
Kebo and his colleagues started breeding broadleaf ferns. He showed me a piece of land owned by Perhutani that had been planted with ferns from a nursery. The air is cool, the trees are dense, and the green ferns are below. This group will try around 5 hectares of land in collaboration with Perhutani.
From the forest land above the river, the view looks wider and more beautiful at the Karo Adventure operations center. Newly arrived vehicles, park in a higher area. There are parking attendants who organize and direct the way to the ticket booth and guides. All the guides are young people that Kebo described above. Local residents are trained to wade through the swift currents.
Visitors need to go down the fenced dirt road to the huts to eat and rest. There is information on the cost of tour packages, there are rafting, camping, and others. If you don’t go rafting, you won’t lose here either.
Enjoying the river and the happy screams of the excited stream riders arriving at the finish line. An overturned rubber boat shedding its passengers is a routine sight. The boisterous sound of hysterical screams and joy broke the silence.
Tourists in large groups roared with laughter the most. For example, teasing his partner’s rubber boat passing by and waiting for the moment they will fall into the water. The guides looked nimble, returned the boat, and asked the passengers to continue a few meters ahead through the short rapids at the finish line.
A bridge connecting the river and forest area is a fun spot to see the atmosphere of rafting. This business is said to have started with one boat costing IDR 12 million and the cohesiveness of the residents has developed it collectively.
This rafting tour is one of the ecotourism in Songgon which is getting busier after the Songgon pine forest. This pine forest is dressed up with colorful umbrellas, tree houses, and other attractions. The two locations are close together. Pine forests are also managed by residents with the same enthusiasm.