Rebuild the mangrove forest, rebuild the community

21 Mar 2014

imageManuel Soares Guntur, APEF Coordinator (Foreground left), Augusto Fernandes, National Director of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Foreground centre) and university students planting mangrove saplings.

Dili, 21 March 2014 - Years of damage by both nature and the community have slowly destroyed many of the country’s mangrove forests, impacting the livelihoods of the people living in coastal areas throughout Timor-Leste. The Government, district leaders,  the Community Based Organization  Agrikultura e Peskas Estrela do Futuro (APEF) and university students have set out to reverse the problem in Ulmera suco (village) Liquica district, by planting approximately  200 new mangrove saplings to help rebuild the once thriving forest. 

 Today’s event marks the beginning of a new project to plant and monitor the growth of more than 5,000 mangroves trees across the coastal area of  Ulmera.

“This initative is part of the Government’s efforts to address issues of poverty and food security, and contribute to the further development of the country,” said Augusto Fernandes, National Director of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. “We trust that the community of Ulmera will protect the newly planted mangroves so that they can grow big, replenish the fish and improve incomes, and protect the coastal ecosystem.”

Developed by APEF, the project  is working to improve the lives and incomes of members of Ulmera community through cooperative activities that are contributing to the sustainable management of the area’s natural resources as well as protecting this natural beauty from further destruction.  

 “The loss of the mangroves, which were once strong and healthy, has lead to less fish being caught to sell in the market and to feed the community members” said Manuel Soares Guntur, APEF Coordinator. “The planting of the mangroves will protect and rehabilitate the coastal ecosystem as well as improve income for the community.”

This is a two step project. Later in the year, when the rains are over, the Government, APEF and UNDP will join together again to begin replanting the forests surrounding the community. Today’s mangrove planting is one of 27 local projects supported by UNDP’s Small Grants Programme (SGP). SGP provides financial and managerial support to local NGOs and community-based organizations to support small-scale projects that address global environmental concerns at the local level while helping to reduce poverty and increase local empowerment. It is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and AusAid.

“UNDP’s Small Grants Programme is one of the ways we are working with the leadership of Timor-Leste and civil society to develop innovative ways for local communities to tackle poverty, address issues of food security and advance the human development of all Timorese”, said Knut Ostby, UNDP Resident Representative.

UNDP’s Small Grants Programme is supported by the Global Environment Facility and AusAID.