Political Year, Urge to Strengthen Mangrove Ecosystem Protection

%When IKN Comes, Indigenous People Are Worried That Traditions Will Disappear%

The protection of the mangrove ecosystem is very important. Mangroves are a natural protector of the coast from the threat of abrasion and other. Entering the political year, 2024, should be the right momentum to increase protection for mangrove ecosystems, among others through strengthening policies.

“This year, it is important to raise issues regarding the protection of coastal communities and mangrove ecosystems in order to mainstream climate justice and community management areas,” said Parid Ridwanuddin, Walhi National Coastal and Marine Campaign Manager in an online discussion last July 26 on World Mangrove Day.

Nur Chayati, a mangrove breeder from the coast of Mangunharjo, Semarang, urged that presidential candidates and the next president should place the interests of protecting coastal communities as a priority in government programs.

Mangrove ecosystems on the coast of Sumatra, such as in the Dipasena shrimp farming area, Lampung, were also damaged.

Here, 200 hectares of mangrove ecosystems were lost due to abrasion, and 400 hectares were damaged due to conversion to illegal ponds.

More than 5,000 shrimp farming families depend on this shrimp farming sector for their livelihood.

He recounted efforts to restore mangroves since 2005 in an area that has experienced abrasion of 160 hectares.

Nur and his community work to protect coastal ecosystems by continuously planting and cultivating mangroves. As a result, an area affected by abrasion covering 160 hectares has recovered. The growing mangroves have been used by the community to produce processed food and beverages.

They want to prove to the wider community that coastal women’s groups are the main actors protecting the coast and glorifying mangroves.

Sutikno Widodo, a shrimp cultivator and mangrove breeder in Dipasena, Lampung, said not much different.

According to Sutikno, the next president must pay attention to the sustainability and safety of the mangrove ecosystem which is an important support for aquaculture in Dipasena.

He said, around 50 families of shrimp cultivators were relocated to safer places. Then, around 25 hectares of shrimp ponds broke down and could not be managed for shrimp farming.

Sutikno said the loss of the mangrove ecosystem covering an area of ​​600 hectares had triggered a drastic decline in the production of shrimp aquaculture in Dipasena. When the mangrove ecosystem is still maintained, shrimp farmers can harvest 60-70 tons of shrimp per day.

In such a situation, he regretted that there was no law enforcement against the destruction of mangrove ecosystems even though there was Law no. 27/2007 in conjunction with Law no. 1/2014 which strictly prohibits the destruction of mangroves and there are strict sanctions for destroying them.

Melva Harahap, Manager of the National Walhi Disaster Study said, mangrove ecosystems in many places in Indonesia have proven to be natural strongholds from disaster threats, such as tsunamis and tidal floods on the coasts of Indonesia.

The existence of the mangrove ecosystem, he said, is maintained because there is knowledge of the living community and they continue to protect it.

Strengthen policies, not the other way around

In line with the insistence on protecting mangrove ecosystems, the government is also preparing a Draft Government Regulation (RPP) on the Protection and Management of Mangrove Ecosystems. However, Muhammad Karim, lecturer at Trilogy University and author of marine and fisheries books, expressed criticism of this draft.

According to him, this RPP has not accommodated community involvement in managing mangrove ecosystems. In other words, the recognition of local governance that was built by the community has not been seen in this policy design.

In Karim’s notes, the mangrove ecosystem in Indonesia is seriously threatened by a number of things. First, many regulations do not protect mangrove ecosystems, or legalize conversion for other purposes.

He mentioned Law No. 3/2020 concerning Minerals and Coal, Law Number 6/2023 concerning the Stipulation of Government Regulation in Lieu of Law Number 2/2022 concerning Job Creation to become Law. There is also PP No. 26/2023 concerning the Management of Marine Sedimentation Products, which legalizes sea sand mining.

Second, the existence of mangrove ecosystems is threatened by government development projects, including beach reclamation, coastal mining, sea and small islands. Also, large-scale infrastructure such as ports, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and others.

Third, marine pollution, both in the form of liquid waste and such as plastic from the mainland. The accumulation of plastic waste has caused a serious decline in the quality of the mangrove ecosystem because it has destroyed the reproductive cycle of this ecosystem on the coasts of Indonesia.

Ecosystem Protection

Fourth, the expansion of large-scale shrimp mines in coastal areas has proven to reduce the area of ​​mangroves in Indonesia. This condition, he said, was exacerbated by the government’s ambition to build shrimp estates in a number of regions in Indonesia.

This RPP, he said, does not have a clear position to protect the mangrove ecosystem from these various threats.

“On the contrary, there are a number of articles, which actually legalize the conversion of mangrove ecosystems to other areas,” said Karim.

Entering this political year, he urged, the president must have the courage to evaluate a number of regulations as well as development projects that perpetuate crises in coastal, marine, and small island areas.

In line with Karim, Rignolda Djamaluddin, a marine science lecturer at Sam Ratulangi University, said that this RPP is too late if you look at the main law, Law No.32/2009 concerning Environmental Protection and Management.

Rignolda also said that this RPP had serious weaknesses in imposing sanctions on perpetrators of destroying mangroves. According to him, this draft should use criminal sanctions when referring to Law 32/2009.

Unfortunately, the RPP instead uses very light administrative sanctions and benefits mangrove destroyers.

Satrio Manggala, Manager of National Walhi Legal Studies, emphasized that in years of electoral politics like today, there is a risk that drafting RPP does not truly protect mangrove ecosystems and coastal communities.

The Forestry Mafia Case was to Investigate

The Anti-Forestry Mafia Coalition has asked the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to immediately thoroughly investigate forestry corruption cases that have not been handled until now, aka deadlocked. Tuesday (1/5), a coalition of Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), Walhi, Silvagama, Greenpeace, and Jikalahari, held an audience with the KPK. They highlighted several forestry corruption cases involving a number of public officials and corporations. The coalition was received by KPK leadership, Abraham Samad, Busyro Muqoddas, and Bambang Wijayanto.

Then, the procurement of an integrated radio communication system (SKRT) at the Ministry of Forestry caused a state loss of IDR 89 billion. Bribes against board members related to the procurement of an integrated radio communication system (SKRT) at the Ministry of Forestry and land conversion, as well as bribes to transfer the function of a 7,300-hectare protected forest on Bintan Island, Riau Archipelago. Also, bribes related to the conversion of mangrove forest land for the port of Tanjung Api-Api, Banyuasin, South Sumatra.

Of these cases, 21 actors have been processed by the KPK, tried, and sentenced by the Corruption Court. The majority have served prison sentences in correctional institutions. They consist of 13 people from the executive branch, both former regional heads, service officials, or the Ministry of Forestry, six politicians and legislators, and two from the private sector.

In the initial evaluation of the coalition, said Teguh, it was found that the KPK had not completely resolved the forestry corruption cases it had handled so far. “In the field of enforcement, there are a number of parties who are strongly suspected of being involved in forestry corruption cases. However, currently, he is still a witness or has not been named a suspect,” he said in a press release, Tuesday (1/5).

Several actors are strongly suspected of being involved in the forestry corruption case, for example, MS Kaban, the former Minister of Forestry. In the case of the SKRT project, Kaban was deemed to have given his approval and signed a direct appointment to PT Masaro. Kaban is also suspected of knowing that there was a process of bribery from PT Masaro to his subordinates at the Ministry of Forestry “But he ignored it and did not report it to law enforcement.”

Of the names allegedly involved, only Wandojo Siswanto and Putranevo were tried at the Tipikor Court and are currently in prison. Both are considered proven guilty of accepting corruption. In addition to the SKRT project case, the name MS Kaban was also mentioned and allegedly received money in the trial process for bribes over land use and projects at the Ministry of Forestry. In this case, Al Amin Nasution, a member of the DPR’s Forestry Commission, was charged.

Another case, which is considered to be incomplete, is corruption related to the issuance of IUPHHK-HT in a number of forestry companies in Riau which is considered problematic. This case only ensnared the regent level and the former head of the Riau Forestry Service. In fact, the coalition’s records show that the Governor of Riau, Rusli Zainal, and special corporations, which are suspected of benefiting from the problematic permits, are strongly involved.

Then, make corruption in the forestry sector a priority, and ensnare the perpetrators of corruption in this sector in layers, not only with the Corruption Law but also the Money Laundering Law. Encouraging the Ministry of Forestry to implement all recommendations and suggestions for improvement based on the results of KPK studies in the forestry sector.

Rawa Tripa Needs Action Not Just Sending Teams

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) regrets the government’s attitude which seems slow to take appropriate action in saving the Tripa swamp, Aceh. This is because several teams have gone to the field and found violations but there has been no immediate action.

He hopes that, with the new governor in Aceh, he can care about and solve the problems in Rawa Tripa. Regarding Walhi Aceh’s lawsuit against PT Kalista Alam, said Deddy, it has been submitted to the Medan High Administrative Court. PT Kalista Alam is a company that has obtained a concession permit for around 1,600 hectares of land in Tripa Swamp. The permit was issued by the Governor of Aceh at the time, Irwandi Yusuf.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Environment sent a joint officer to carry out further investigations in Rawa Tripa regarding the findings of alleged violations by the REDD Task Force. The joint team involved the National Police Headquarters and the Attorney General’s Office.

KLH sent a joint officer, involving police from the National Police Headquarters and prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, to collect information regarding alleged operational violations by palm oil companies in the Rawa Tripa peat forest area, Aceh.

Sudariyono, Deputy V for Environmental Management of the Ministry of Environment, said that there were five indications of violations. First, there are indications of the opening of 1,605 hectares of new peat land without a permit. Second, there are various activities that enter the Leuse ecosystem area which damage the conservation area.

Third, there is burning to clear peatland. Fourth, palm oil processing produces environmental pollution waste. Fifth, activities on peatlands have a depth limit of more than three meters.

Previous findings from the REDD Task Force. There was a land fire inside PT Kalista Alam and PT Surya Panen Subur. From direct observation, it seems that fires are organized and planned to have a negative impact on the ecosystem. PT Kalista Alam’s plantation area of ​​1,605 hectares is within the KEL.

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