Communities in Northern Java are suffering from coastal erosion affecting hundreds of kilometers of coastline. In the district of Demak more than 3 kilometers of land including entire villages have already been swallowed up by the sea. The main causes of erosion problems are the removal of mangrove belts for aquaculture development, the construction of coastal infrastructure that disturbs sediment build-up from offshore sources, as well as river canalization and groundwater extraction, which cause land subsidence.
To solve this problem, Building with Nature project addresses these root causes integrating mangrove and river restoration, small-scale engineering and sustainable land use. The project is coordinated by some foundations, NGO and Indonesian government. Semi-permeable barriers have been built from poles and brushwood to dampen the waves and capture sediment. Once the near shore bed level rises enough, mangroves will regenerate naturally, developing a natural defense that will protect the hinterland from further erosion. Where the coastline has not yet been eroded, the conversion of ponds into mangrove forests is encouraged in close collaboration with local communities.
“Building with Nature” is a model for sustainable aquaculture that provides space for mangrove restoration and requires less use of chemicals, in order to enable vulnerable communities and economic sectors to prosper, limiting climate change migration phenomena. The measures will be controlled using community bylaws and rooted in community development plans and government master planning for sustainable development.