14 November 2012

Bali - The mangrove forest

Scores of activists from various communities in Denpasar and Kuta braved the formidable stench of the swamp to collect plastic trash from the mangrove forest, a popular tourist destination in Suwung.

The forest is at the core of ongoing public controversy following the provincial administration’s move in granting a private company the right to manage the tract.

The cleanup drive was initiated by Dapur Olah Kreatif (DOK), a forum comprised mainly of Denpasar’s authors and musicians, and the newly declared Generasi Putih, a youth organization aimed at mobilizing local youths to do voluntary work to conserve the island’s nature.

Wearing latex gloves and masks, the participants descended into the forest and started collecting plastic trash, mostly in the form of colorful shopping bags. The trash was put into large black trash bags. It took them only one hour to stuff hundreds of trash bags with plastic garbage.
The mangrove forest, locally known as Tahura (People’s Forest Park), is a 10-hectare, open-to-the-public tract, designated as a tourism, educational and research area. It is part of more than 1,300 hectares of conserved mangrove forest stretching from Sanur to Suwung. The Tahura is currently managed and run by a government agency.

Plastic trash is an omnipresent sight in the forest. The trash covers the trunks and roots of the mangrove, a plant deemed critical in preventing sea erosion and seawater intrusion, and which softens the impact of tsunami. This is a very dangerous thing because mangroves breathe using the roots. Once the roots are covered by plastic trash then it is only a matter of time before the plant dies. Most of the trash came from the nearby sea, which is not only hosting the island’s largest general-purpose harbor and oil depot, but also borders the island’s biggest open landfill and the tourist beaches from Sanur.

When the sea water rises, the water brings the trash into the mangrove forest. When the seawater recedes, most of the plastic trash gets stuck in the mangroves.

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