by Pippin Barry
Mangroves are a fantastic resource, they are homes to a range of birds, fish, crustaceans and mollusks, that can and have been sustainably harvested for hundreds of years. We were keen to talk to the students at SMP 30 about the mangrove conservation work being done by Tunas Hijau. I delivered a talk to the students about the environmental problems we face with a specific emphasis on what is happening here in Surabaya. The Mangrove forests are also valuable and food and medicine products can be derived from their flowers and leaves. Unfortunately large tracts of mangroves have been cut-down to use as building timber and firewood. This has left the coastline of Surabaya open to the elements creating a new set of problems.
Villagers who rely on fresh drinking water have had to abandon fresh-water wells as salt water creeps further inland. Without the amazing filtration power of the mangrove plant salt water easily penetrates into coastal soil. This flow works both ways with sediment and other pollutants flowing out to sea and contaminating the bay. The students were really interested in this topic and what they could do to help. We discussed differences between Indonesian and Australian mangrove forests and the activities.
While at the school we also wanted to see how the students could influence their immediate surrounding. Waste management is the backbone of a clean environment. The huge increases in packaging, especially for food, have led to more plastics being sent to landfill. The problem of what to do with inorganic waste was present at SMP 30. While some areas were great examples of environmental landscaping others were piled with rubbish. This rubbish isn’t just unsightly – it contributes a large amount of greenhouse gases when burnt. After our visit to the school we were determined to work with the students to put a new waste plan into action.
Hopefully many of the students will come and help us to plant mangroves trees this June and Tunas Hijau continues its effort to revitalize the area. Tomorrow a group of us are going to survey the flora and fauna of the area that we will use in future education campaigns to demonstrate just how rich life is in the Mangroves.