The Importance of Togean Mangrove Forests
Mangrove forests are found across the planet in tropical and subtropical latitudes where there are areas of low oxygen soil and slow-moving tidal waters. The trees have a recognisable tangle of roots which allow them to withstand the daily movement of water.
Indonesia is home to 23% of the world's mangrove forests, however according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 40% of these have been destroyed since the 1980's.
As is the case worldwide, Indonesia's mangroves face a number of threats ranging from short-term clearing for land reclamation and shrimp farming to long-term concerns over climate change and rising sea temperatures.
One of the many mangrove forests on the islands. Credit: Stephanie Garvin
Around 4000 hectares of Togean's coastal areas are covered with mangrove forests. Whilst a large number of Indonesia's mangroves have been destroyed to facilitate the increase in shrimp farming to meet global demand, the Togean mangroves face a threat closer to home.
The ever growing-population of the islands requires housing, thus the Government has often removed vast swathes of mangrove forest for construction projects. They have also fallen victim from unsustainable cutting for timber and firewood.
Mangroves are an extremely versatile crop, which islanders can make numerous items out of. Roots are harvested to create salt and medicine, trunks can become stilts which overwater houses sit on and fisherman use a bark infusion to clean their nets.
Collecting mangrove roots for making mangrove salt. Credit: Siana Wijono
They also provide a home to the Bobongko tribe, who not only are responsible for making mangrove salt but also have so many uses for the trees that they meet almost all of their requirements. Others animals which call the mangroves home include; saltwater crocodiles, crabs, bees and giant clams, as well as the Red Knobbed Hornbill which is endemic to the Sulawesi region of Indonesia.
A block of mangrove salt. This dipped into boiling water to add flavour to food; a block this size can last up to a year. Credit: Siana Wijono
A mangrove ecosystem can provide various ecosystem services; perhaps most famously coastal protection against tsunamis and storms. Yet the Togean mangrove forest is not just important to the residents of the Islands as they have an important role within carbon sequestration.
Carbon sequestration is the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere where it is then held in a solid or liquid form; in this instance within the soil and trees of the forests, when the trees are cut down this is then released back into the atmosphere. The deforestation of Indonesia's mangrove's releases 190 million metric tons of CO2 ever year, which amounts to 42% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.
The Togean Conservation Foundation are working alongside volunteers and local villagers to restore the Islands mangrove forests through replantation programmes. Together we have replanted 387 mangroves to help repair a large area of destroyed trees in the Teluk Kilat area.
In the near future we are hoping to participate in further mangrove restoration projects as well as engage tourists with information on the importance of these unique habitats and the species which inhabit them.
To stay up to date with our projects, sign up to our mailing list for regular updates.
Taken at at the start of a TCF regeneration project. Photo Credit: Stephanie Garvin
Media enquiries and volunteer opportunities to:
Togean Conservation Foundation
Tel/ Whatsapp +62 821 8897 9315