Recently in Indonesia Category
We just got this GLOWING update via email from our field rep in Indonesia about the 99,000-acre marine reserve off the coast of Daram Island. (Seacology is funding the construction of a community center in nearby Fafanlap village in exchange for their support of the reserve)
It was so great we just had to share:
The last time I dived this site was with the Seacology trip in 2007 and while it was spectacular four years ago, the reef has exploded with fish life since then. For the first time we saw schools of Napoleon wrasse, blacktip sharks and aggregations of big grouper, all of which seem to have been locally extinct on most Indonesian reefs for over a decade. There were so many fish on this dive that our heads were spinning. I was emphatically pointing one way and Mark was emphatically pointing another way the whole dive. I came out of that dive exhilarated and full of joy and hope that other reefs in the Misool area, with continued protection, will also look like Fafanlap in just a few short years. If they do, I can foresee that S.E. Misool will have THE best diving in the world, hands down.
So what kinds of creatures are being protected? Here's a quick tour of some of Batukahu Forest's residents:
The forest cat has big eyes and is very ferocious, while the long-tailed macaque looks a little sad, but their babies are adorable.
Meanwhile, the pangolin looks a lot like an armadillo, and the flying fox (AKA the kalong) is not a fox at all, but instead a rather large bat.
Seacology Program Manager Karen Peterson recently returned from a trip to Indonesia, where she traveled with our Indonesia Field Representative Arnaz Mehta and visited Seacology projects. One of their site visits was on the island of Java, where Seacology has funded a multi-purpose community building in support of the replanting of 72 acres and protecting a total of 267 acres of no-take rainforest. Below is Karen's account of her visit.
On October 24, Arnaz and I flew to Bandung, Java, overnighted, then were met at the hotel by Mandalemekar project coordinator Irman Meilandi. We then drove four hours to the village. Though the road approaching the village was not of the same level of ruggedness as what we had experienced on Flores Island a few days earlier, rain has made access into and out of Mandalamekar challenging. Fortunately, the roads were in decent shape for our arrival.
Right, Karen, Arnaz, and Mandalamekar villagers at their local waterfall.
Seacology is currently supporting almost 200 projects on islands around the world. Below, we have updates on two of our recent projects. Visit our website to see news on all Seacology's projects.
Umbu Langang, Sumba Island, Indonesia - Freshwater system in support of the protection of 7,414 acres of rainforest and savannah for a minimum duration of 10 years
On Indonesia's Sumba Island, Seacology is working with Umbu Langang Village to protect over 7,000 acres of rainforest and savannah. The protected area borders Manupeu Tanadaru National Park, which contains rare sandalwood habitat for several endemic frog, butterfly, reptile, and bird species. Umbu Langang borders the park, and has agreed not to expand their farms, protecting 5,931 acres of forest and 1,483 acres of mixed savannah. Seacology originally agreed to support the village's conservation efforts with a critically needed fresh water system. When that project was completed under budget, Seacology approved the remaining funds to be used for a "living kitchen," or community garden, which will be supported in the dry season with the new fresh water system.
As of June 2010, the fresh water systems continues to run smoothly and provide many benefits to the village. Additionally, 100 village women are involved in the "living kitchen," farming small plots of land near their homes and adjacent to the fresh water pipes. Many of these women are on their second plantings, and many of the vegetables have flourished, including cauliflower, water spinach, tomatoes, and chilies. Villagers report that routine patrols are being conducted in the national park. Although there was once instance of monkeys being trapped, the conflict was resolved and the rangers are continuing to patrol with vigilance.
I've been at Seacology for nine years now (I was the first paid employee, beating Executive Director Duane Silverstein by around a week). Each time a board meeting comes and passes, I'm astounded at both how time flies, as well as how we have grown as an organization. At their June 9 meeting, Seacology's board of directors approved seven new projects, bringing our total number of projects to 176. Moreover, a really cool milestone has been reached - Seacology now has projects on 100 islands in 44 countries throughout the world.
Following are short descriptions of the projects passed by Seacology's board of directors at their June 9 meeting. You can find full descriptions on our website.
AMERICAN SAMOA, Pago Pago Village, Tutuila Island - Phase 3: Eradicate the dense stands of the destructive Falcataria moluccana tree adjacent to the National Park areas of American Samoa (NPSA). *
Left: Children on the mangrove walkway, Wasini Island, Kenya.
I love getting National Geographic's photography email newsletter. I used to get the magazine as well, but realized that it was collecting dust more than anything else. But the emails - they are some of the very few that I actually take the time to go through and read. Why? They are usually filled with odd snippets about nature and the environment that are accompanied by beautiful photographs - exactly the sort of thing that I'm interested in, can quickly glance at and absorb, and then move on.
In the most recent edition that I perused today, was a pictorial story about an area of coral reef in the Marshall Islands that is apparently flourishing 50 years after being the test spot for an atom bomb. Working in the environmental field, it's not a regular occurrence to find stories that are actually *positive*, so this was a nice change of pace. It is absolutely incredible to imagine that in only half a century, a blink of an eye, coral and other marine life could begin to retake the area. This reality is, likely, due in large part to the remoteness of the area and the fact that, at least since the bombs were tested, it has been relatively undisturbed.
As Karen wrote in her last entry, we have a very small staff here at Seacology - only six of us. The result is a pretty efficient group of individuals who all take care of more tasks than what our official titles would reveal. While I spend a little over half my work day processing all things financial, I spend almost about as much time reviewing projects in process and communicating with field representatives and project leaders about the current state of their programs.
One thing I have found fascinating over the years is the frequent request from project partners from widely different cultural regions to have Seacology provide a public meeting space in exchange for their decision to conserve their environment. The design of these buildings is planned at the site by community members in conjunction with hired contractors and either a Seacology field representative or a project leader. This planning process involves a high degree of cultural knowledge of building techniques that are appropriate for the extreme weather in the particular area as well as what makes sense in terms of community size and purpose. (Above right: Niakokokoro, Fiji Center; Left: Sarinbuana, Indonesia Center)
What does Madagascar have to do with Mantas, one might ask after reading the title of this blog. Generally speaking not much. You are not likely to see a lemur or chameleon frolicking with a manta ray after all. But on this island travel blog anything is possible. Loyal readers of this column know that I have been writing about a recent Seacology trip to Indonesia. While diving there we had several close encounters with manta rays. Seacology board member Jim Sandler took some terrific videos of these magnificent creatures.
"Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, Seacology gets more output than any conservation group that I've seen. They're not giving money away, they're not making grants, they're making deals."
These signs act as an important reminder to the communities that the needed infrastructure we provide is not a handout; it is part of a trade-off in recognition of a commitment to conservation of their precious natural resources.
I thought I'd post photos of some of these signs.
The sign at left is on one of 11 schools in Madagascar's Mangoro region that received Seacology-funded repairs in exchange for community agreements to protect the last remaining habitat of the Mangoro Flying Fox. Due to hunting for bushmeat, uncontrolled fires and logging, just a few pockets of forest remain as roosts for these large bats.
Seacology is also funding repairs to local municipal offices, and an educational component, with a conservation art competition scheduled to begin in early 2008. The winning artists will be awarded by members of the Seacology 2008 expedition to Madagascar and South Africa. Information on this trip can be found here. Click here for more information regarding the Mangoro project.
In the last few weeks we have had quite a few updates from Seacology's field representatives and project contacts on islands throughout the world. Here are a couple of updates from projects in Indonesia and India.
In Indonesia, Seacology field representative Arnaz Mehta notes that Seacology's project in Waigeo, Raja Ampat, is moving along smoothly. In exchange for a nine village agreement to establish a 123,553-acre marine protected area within the Mayalibit Bay, Seacology is providing a series of infrastructure improvements including constructing public washrooms, walking paths, and solar cell electricity for lighting so that children can study in the evening.