Friday, July 19, 2013

Ronaldo Visits Indonesia, Plants Mangroves

Christiano Ronaldo, world famous footballer of Portugal and Real Madrid, was invited as an ambassador of mangroves June 26th, to participate in a mangrove planting event alongside Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono (SBY), and the Indonesian Minister of Forests.  
 The Indonesian Mangrove Management Agency (BPHM) was in charge of the technical aspects of the planting.  The head of BPHM, Ir. Murdoko, called Ben Brown of Mangrove Action Project - Indonesia to visit the planting site several days before the event for technical recommendations.  The planting site at Tanjung Benoa, had been planted on 4 previous occasions, but had experienced total mortality in all those occasions.
BPHM's response this time, was to plant mangroves protected by cylinders made of woven bamboo mats, ostensibly to keep snails (considered pests) off the trees and to keep the leaves above the highest tide, to avoid leaves getting muddy.  MAP-Indonesia explained that a healthy mangrove plant, of an appropriate species, planted in the appropriate place, will not succumb to pests (snails, etc.) or a bit of mud on the leaves.  The key is planting at an appropriate substrate elevation, somewhere between Mean Sea Level and High Tide.

BPHM had prepared 4 species of seedlings for planting, Sonneratia alba, Avicennia marina, Rhizophora apiculata and Brugueria gymnorhizza.  All four of these species are naturally present at this location.  This location already has a healthy growth of mangroves, and was more or less considered for ceremonial planting due to ease of access.  It was clear, at the site, that planting too far out to sea would again kill the mangroves.  But nature provided a cue as to how far out to sea young mangroves would survive.  A lone Sonneratia alba sapling was growing beyond the edge of the natural forest, on a substrate which had experienced sedimentation due to the construction of a sandy beach and hotel next door. 

This sapling was situated 1.2 m above Lowest Atmospheric Tide (0 meters), and thus MAP-Indonesia reccommended that no plantings should take place below 1.2 meters.  BPHM followed this advice by and large, having students plant the area the day before the Ronaldo/SBY event, with 3000 mangroves of mixed species, all of which were planted at 1.2 m or higher.  Perhaps the trees didn't need to be planted at 1 meter spacings, and infilling of the naturally occuring forest wasn't necessary, but the event raised an amazing amount of general awareness about mangroves.

President SBY and Ronaldo himself planted their mangroves inside of screened bamboo cylinders, adjacent to a dock for ease of access, with artificially heightened sediment inside, because the ceremony took place at a 2.4 meter tide.  These larger saplings which were planted ceremonially will be relocated to an appropriate substrate height.

So - congratulations Indonesia for raising awareness about mangroves.  And congratulations again, for following up the planting today with support of a major Ecological Mangrove Restoration effort in the Province of Gorontalo, which should see at least 2600 of mangroves restored in aquaculture ponds illegally constructed in the Tanjung Panjang Nature Reserve two decades ago.

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