Building shoreline resilience of Timor Leste to protect local communities and their livelihoods

Project background

Timor-Leste has approximately 747km of coastline and an estimated two-thirds of the population live in coastal areas; this comprises of over 600,000 people residing in coastal and lowland areas at an elevation up to 500m. Timor-Leste is highly vulnerable to climate change induced hazards and disasters such as rising sea levels, inundation, erosion, salt water intrusion, storm surge and drought. In addition, its topography exacerbates its vulnerability to climate risks.  (Lee versaun Tetum iha ne'e)

Mangrove forests offer a natural barrier between the sea and coastal communities. However, the total mangrove area of Timor-Leste has reduced significantly (~80%) from 9,000 to ~1,300ha since 1940 due to both climate and non-climate factors, including a rise in sea level, increased storm frequency, salt water intrusion, upstream sediment impacts, cutting and felling for fuel wood and building materials, coastal development and animal grazing; leaving the shoreline and coastal communities exposed to coastal risks of climate change.  As a result, coastal communities are especially vulnerable to climate change due to the sea level rise and natural hazards originating from upland areas in broader coastal watersheds.

Project activities

As mangroves are a vital natural defense to the impacts of climate change, extensive mangroves and coastal wetlands ecosystem protection and restoration interventions will be implemented while strengthening alternative livelihoods options and integrated approaches to coastal adaptation to protect the coastal communities and productive lands.  Public awareness raising about the important role of coastal ecosystems in shoreline protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation is an integral part of the programme.

  • Policy framework and institutional capacity for climate resilient coastal management established: this outcome focuses on conducting baseline studies, designing strategic documents and guidelines as well as various institutional capacity building activities for government counterparts and partners on mangroves and coastal ecosystem restoration and management.  Extensive public awareness raising interventions focusing on communities, school children and youth is another intervention area. In addition, communications and knowledge products will be developed in local language and disseminated to the wider public.
  • Mangrove-supportive livelihoods established to incentivize mangrove rehabilitation and protection: strengthening livelihoods and adaptive capacity of the coastal vulnerable communities is at the centre of the project in order to incentivize them to conserve and protect the mangroves ecosystem. Vulnerable communities are organized in groups and provided with business skills and other relevant technical trainings and engage in fishery, fattening, horticulture, handicraft, farming, and agroforestry activities to improve their livelihoods as well as safeguard mangrove and coastal wetland ecosystems. Youth engagement in income generating and conservation activities are also key.
  • Integrated approaches to coastal adaptation adopted to contribute to protection of coastal populations and productive lands: sustainable land management activities such as Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUS) approach as a key methodology will be promoted to ensure high participation and ownership of the local authorities and the larger community. In addition, upscaling of successful reforestation efforts with diversity of tree species, agroforestry, rehabilitation and protective measures of wetland and estuary areas; Land works such as contour/swale building and small-scale bio-engineering for reducing runoff and soil loss and providing enhanced water-access for agricultural and agro-forestry use, as well as for infiltration to restore springs and aquifers.

Project results

  • 5,330 community members from seven municipalities have participated in community sensitization and consultation on the importance of mangroves and coastal wetlands protection and conservation (an ecosystem-based approach) in climate change adaptation.
  • 2,155 children in 14 primary and secondary schools participated in educational activities on mangrove and wetland restoration targeting school children as a means of also engaging the broader community.
  • As part of a youth symposium on environment, mangroves and coastal ecosystem conservation, 740 youth participated in different activities including planting mangroves and multipurpose trees, as well as cleaning and educational activities, among others.
  • 503 national experts provided trainings on biophysical coastal vulnerability assessment and prioritization of climate change adaptation options; assessment and monitoring of mangrove and coastal wetlands using drones; community based mangroves restoration techniques and financial and project management.
  • Finalisation of economic analysis of mangrove supportive livelihoods options for Coastal communities of Timor Leste, Assessment Report: Biophysical, Ecological and Socio-Economic Conditions of Mangroves Ecosystem of Timor Leste, Comprehensive coastal vulnerability assessment (CVA), Rapid assessment of shoreline and oceanography of Timor Leste: recommendation of viable seal level Rise and Tidal gauging instruments, Mangrove Restoration Guideline for Timor-Leste (English, Tetun and Bahasa Indonesia), Field Guideline for Monitoring and Evaluation of Mangrove Ecosystem Restoration in Timor-Leste, bi-monthly newsletters, leaflets, booklets and quarterly reports.
  • 30,550 seedlings of different species mangroves prepared and 7,860 mangroves planed in five sites.
  • Through a community based participatory approach 875 ha of mangroves areas and wetlands fenced in 12 sites across the country.
  • Four sucos’ communities launched comprehensive mangroves and environmental protection customary law, ‘tata-bandu'.
  • 620 poor households, of which 264 are women (3,720 individuals) in seven districts were organized into groups and received business skill and technical trainings and currently engaged in fishery, fattening, horticulture, handicraft, farming, and agroforestry activities.
  • 16,845 multipurpose trees such as jackfruit, orange, papaya, mahogany, citrus, sandal wood and coconut seedlings prepared by community and implementing NGOs in all target municipalities which will be planted on degraded hills, coastline and community farms and home yards as a mechanism of reducing erosion, land degradation and enhancing food security.



Project start date:

January 2016

Estimated end date:

December 2020

Focus area:

  • inclusive growth
  • Project office:

    UNDP in Timor-Leste

    Implementing partner:

    United Nations Development Programme

    Funding Support by

    Donor name

  • Global Environment Fund Truste
  • Amount contributed


    Delivery in previous fiscal year

    2018 $1,270,197

    2017 $1,126,410

    2016 $293,261

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