Haburas: Mangrove Devastation in Metinaru
The Haburas Foundation
Critical Issue Series - English Edition
Mangrove Devastation in Metinaru - What are the issues?
Mangrove felling for firewood and building material is out of control in Metinaro. Each day approximately 10 trucks, each fully loaded with 4 tons of illegally harvested wood are leaving the mangrove forests around Metinaro. Should we care?
Timor Leste needs a healthy mangrove resource for its fishing industry, food security, coral reef resource and a future lucrative tourism industry - The current extraction is the epitome of unsustainable resource use!
What is the answer?
Many people in Dili adhere to the conventional wisdom that the ‘sustainable environment is only an issue for Timor Leste in the future, once the more obvious and acute humanitarian problems have been addressed adequately.
Unfortunately it is very difficult to redress issues such as a lack of livelihood opportunities, access to first-class protein and good household food-security after the serious degradation to the environment that provides those services, has already occurred.
To begin the search for an answer to these problems that lie in wait for Timor Leste tomorrow, we must first generate awareness of their causes through informing all stakeholders about the strongly unsustainable practices that are occurring today.
A paradigm shift in environmental perception is essential to the future of this country, and the Haburas Foundation is leading the way. However we can only achieve a sustainable Timor Leste if this environmental responsibility is shared across all sectors of society and disciplines of development.
These issues need to be addressed at both a local and national level by the Timorese government, but also by associated NGOs and other relevant changeagents. NGOs with influence over IDP livelihood practices should aim to address this issue on the ground. These actions will help to raise awareness and stress the importance of protection of the remaining mangrove areas, particularly with respect to harmonising IDP camp and local community’s relationships. The formulation of the State of the Nation document by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is currently in progress and should also include mangrove destruction in its proceedings (with particular reference to the Coral Triangle Initiative that Timor Leste has agreed to implement - relating to coral-reef conservation). The current extraction is illegal under Timorese national laws according to:
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Alongi, D. M., Carvalho, N. A., 2007. The effects of small scale logging on stand characteristics and soil biochemistry in mangrove forests of Timor Leste. AIMS, Queensland, Australia.
Ministeris de Agricultura, Dili. TL.
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Nagelkerken, I. et al. 2001. Dependence of Caribbean reef fishes on mangroves and seagrass beds as nursery habitats: a comparison of fish faunas between bays with and without mangroves/seagrass beds. Mar.
Ecol. Vol 214, 225235 Is this the only future for Timor Leste’s natural resources?