The impact of climate change, which is increasingly difficult to control, forces all countries in the world to move extra quickly to overcome it in various ways. Without solid and sustainable management, climate change is believed to destroy nature.
This is Indonesia’s fear in facing the impact of this natural phenomenon. One of the impacts that is expected to be very large, is on coastal areas and small islands. Many threats are now lurking in the area around the sea waters.
However, behind the lurking threat, coastal areas and small islands actually have great potential to control the impact of climate change. Not only in Indonesia, but also throughout the world.
The Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative (IOJI) in particular has even released a report on blue carbon ecosystems (EKB) which is believed to be a solution to addressing the impacts of climate change. IOJI expressed this belief, because Indonesia has 17 percent of the world’s blue carbon reserves.
The report, which was published at the end of January 2023, stated that EKB holds significant potential in efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. EKB has great potential to absorb and store carbon which plays an important role in climate change mitigation efforts.
EKB itself does not only cover mangrove forest ecosystems, but also seagrass beds and salt marshes . All of these ecosystems act as carbon sequestration and storage .
IOJI stated that the area of mangroves in Indonesia currently reaches 3,364,076 hectares and seagrass beds reach 293,464 hectares. Especially for mangroves, the value of ecosystem services per district throughout Indonesia has reached a valuation of USD 2 million to USD 50 million in a period of 30 years.
However, even though the potential for EKB is enormous in Indonesia, in its report IOJI stated that its current condition has long been threatened by anthropogenic pressure or caused by activities carried out by humans.
For example, aquaculture activities, mangrove clearing, agriculture, coastal development, pollution, and unsustainable/destructive fishing. All of that can put pressure on and threaten the health of EKB.
In more detail, IOJI then cited data released by the Peat and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) regarding the causes of EKB damage. First, the factor of interest in regional development or the development of economic infrastructure such as ports, industrial areas.
Second, the utilization of mangrove areas for new residential areas, fish and shrimp pond cultivation areas; Third, mangrove damage due to chemical waste streams; fourth, illegal logging ;
Fifth, over-cutting , such as the use of raw materials for charcoal production; Sixth, natural causes: rising sea levels, waves, tsunamis. Particularly in Indonesia, fish farming, palm oil production, and coastal development are the main drivers of mangrove degradation.
If EKB experiences degradation, then its role as a carbon sink will turn into a significant source of emissions. In addition, degradation will also damage the protection of coastal ecosystems, as well as threaten the livelihoods of people who depend on EKB.
The threat that is already lurking in EKB is also well understood by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP). The State Institution is now focused on restoring the damaged EKB and expanding throughout Indonesia.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Sakti Wahyu Trenggono said, apart from expanding marine conservation areas, his party also focused on carrying out coastal and small island management. Thus, it is hoped that the mangrove and seagrass ecosystems can be healthy and broad.
Then, it can increase carbon storage and absorption from coastal areas and small islands while maintaining sustainable coastal community economic practices. Also, it can offset emissions from anthropogenic activities.
“Of course, encouraging prosperous and resilient coastal communities,” he said.
Director General of Marine Spatial Management Victor Gustaaf Manoppo at the same moment also said that the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is focused on helping Indonesia achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2030.
In order to achieve the NDC, the management of EKB must be carried out very well by Indonesia. If it succeeds, other impacts will also be felt, namely reducing emissions and increasing the economy of the community.
To control climate change, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has two important mandates that must be carried out. First, being in charge of ocean and climate issues for the climate change convention. Second, to become the executor of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the marine sector.
Another effort so that EKB can be managed properly, is to try to include it in the 2nd NDC document in 2025, and the Implementation of Carbon Economic Value (NEK), especially seagrass beds.
Not only that, through collaboration with UNDP Indonesia, KKP has also designed climate change mitigation actions for the marine sector to support the achievement of Indonesia’s NDC targets, one of which is the blue carbon ecosystem.
Victor Gustaaf Manoppo said that the potential for carbon sequestration in Indonesia’s coastal ecosystems is estimated to reach a total of 3.4 gigatonnes (GT). This enormous amount is roughly 17 percent of the world’s total blue carbon.
With a total of 3,364,076 ha of mangrove forests, the carbon that can be absorbed is estimated at 11 billion tons with an estimated monetary value of USD 66 billion. Meanwhile, with the current seagrass meadow area, it is estimated that it can absorb up to 790 million tons of carbon, and a monetary value of USD 35 billion.
When managing coasts and small islands, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries strengthens regulations on the protection of blue carbon stock areas, allocates space to maintain or increase blue carbon stocks, and improves the quality of blue carbon stock areas.
“As well as strengthening the synergy of blue carbon management in coastal areas and small islands,” he added.
Beyond that, increasing the contribution of blue carbon is also currently facing quite complicated challenges. For example, the availability of valid data, recognized methodologies, and the need for support from various parties in preparing blue carbon economic, financing and governance frameworks.