Demand for firewood in recent years led to the depletion of the mangrove forest in the Indonesia village of Paremas. For years the people’s occupations were agriculture and fishing. Depleted fish stock, poor irrigation and challenges associated with land ownership drove most of the men to work overseas in order to raise money to care for their loved ones, while some women went abroad to work as domestic servants. The women who stayed home have depended on their husbands’ remittances in addition to collecting fish and other sea life in pools.
However, about 10 years ago, the local government and environmental NGOs emphasized the significance of restoring the mangrove. With the help of the locals, everyone got to work replanting Paremas mangrove forest, which in turn now cushions the effect of tidal waves, limits coastal flooding, saves arable land from coastal erosion, reduces plastic and garbage deposit on the beach, and increases biodiversity. With the availability of crabs, vegetables and fruits, the women started making crab crackers, as well as cakes made from the flour of mangrove fruits, creating a source of income for the women to support their families. “There are many benefits now,” says Hanieti, a resident mother, “even the mosquitoes are gone.”