On 13 December 2017 through cooperation between UNDP and the National Youth Council of Timor-Leste, 80 youths came together in Metinaro to plant over 1,000 mangrove seedlings. Following a youth symposium held in Dili, this initiative empowered them to take responsibility for conserving their environment, particularly the mangrove ecosystem which forms a natural defense in coastal areas against climate change induced risks and hazards, such as rising sea level and erosion.
Also in attendance and encouraging the youths with motivational speeches were Fausto Soares Dias, Administrator of Sub District Metinaro, Dili Municipality, Manuel Mendes, Director General of Forestry, Coffee and Industrial Plants, MAF, Dario Leong, President of Search and Rescue, and Representative of National Council of Youth of Timor Leste (CNJTL), Faustino Raci Bere, Representative of National Directorate of Pollution Control and Environment Health and Felisberta Moniz da Silva, Head of Sustainable Development Unit, UNDP.
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.