A coastal ecosystem in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. CIFOR, Flickr

In Borneo, a local community brings back its mangroves

Villagers tame the rising seas with a Restoration Steward’s help

By Shafa Fakhira, social media specialist, Pongo Ranger Community, and Dwi Riyan, 2023 Wetland Restoration Steward and Pongo Ranger Community co-founder. All images courtesy of the Pongo Ranger Community.

Far from the hustle and bustle of the city lies Ketapang, a remote region of West Kalimantan on the Indonesian side of the island of Borneo.

The world’s third-largest island, Borneo hosts one of the world’s oldest rainforests, offering refuge for vast levels of biodiversity, famously including orangutans, hornbills and turtles. But the island is also home to a rapidly growing human population of 21 million – and with it, the growing threats of deforestation, wildfires and land degradation.

Located in Borneo’s southwestern corner, Ketapang is renowned for its abundant fisheries and fertile farmland, which provide livelihoods for most of the region’s population. But these industries are now at risk from seawater intrusion due to the degradation of the mangroves that line the coast and hold back the tide.

This increasing salinity threatens the productivity of the region’s farmland and could eventually lead to crop failure.

Tanjung Baik Budi
Drone imagery of Tanjung Baik Budi.

In the village of Tanjung Baik Budi, local farmers are fighting back by partnering with the Pongo Ranger Community – co-founded by 2023 GLF Restoration Steward Dwi Riyan – to bring back the region’s dwindling mangroves.

Since its founding in 2018, the youth-led organization has planted 3,500 mangrove trees in the area – including 2,000 planted in February 2024 with the support of the Global Landscapes Forum through its Restoration Stewards program.

Farmers have shown a keen interest in helping monitor the mangroves once they have been planted, which is a crucial element in ensuring the initiative’s long-term success.

“The project is very important because the mangrove forest was cut down in [the neighboring village of] Sungai Putri,” says local farmer Rusli. “This led to seawater seeping into the farmland, making it unusable for agriculture.”

Workshop on mangrove monitoring and evaluation
Farmers learned to measure mangrove growth at the workshop.

Last November, 13 farmers from Tanjung Baik Budi took part in a monitoring and evaluation workshop led by the Pongo Ranger Community, where they learned to improve their mangrove planting techniques and received training on how to monitor their growth.

The organization has also deployed a dedicated monitoring team to oversee the newly planted mangroves and promptly address any issues.

Farmers at the workshop
The 13 farmers who participated in the monitoring and evaluation workshop.

However, this time of year often sees high rainfall, strong winds and high tides, which could negatively impact the growth of the mangrove seedlings. Despite having prepared the seedlings in December, it wasn’t until February, when weather conditions started to improve, that the farmers started to plant them.

“It’s crucial to understand optimal mangrove planting techniques for Tanjung Baik Budi farmers to minimize post-planting setbacks,” says Setiawan, the Pongo Ranger Community’s on-site coordinator.

“If we see any mangroves that aren’t growing well, we will quickly replace them with new seedlings.”

Workshop on weaving production costs
A Pongo Ranger-led workshop on weaving production costs.

Aside from restoring mangroves, the Pongo Ranger Community is also working with a group of local women who weave bags out of dried nipa palm leaves, organizing a recent workshop to help them more accurately calculate the cost of their products.

The bags offer a sustainable alternative to plastic bags and are typically sold to farmers to help them cut down on plastic waste during planting – a small change that can make a big difference in promoting greener and more responsible farming.

The weavers pick the leaves as needed and dry them, which reduces moisture and strengthens the leaves to improve their durability, before weaving them into bags. They typically acquired the art of weaving from their elders, helping their families produce woven products such as mats.

However, these items can be tricky to sell as they are made to order and thus only sold in small quantities, in line with the demands of each buyer.

Weavers at the workshop
The weavers who participated in the workshop on production costs.

The weavers had previously sold their products to customers without considering the actual cost of production. This meant their profits were often inconsistent as their earnings depended on the offers they received.

“Until now, we had never calculated the production cost, nor kept records of sales,” says Halimah, one of the workshop participants. “We also never considered labor as part of the production cost calculation.”

Through a series of practical exercises during the workshop, the weavers learned how to calculate the cost of production and sell their products at a profitable price. For a batch of 50 eco-poly bags, they can expect to earn between IDR 2,000 and 3,500 (USD 0.13 to 0.23) per unit.

Mangrove in a bag
A young mangrove in a finished bag made by a local weaver.

By working hand in hand with the Pongo Ranger Community, farmers and weavers in Tanjung Baik Budi are restoring their local environment to good health – and securing their own livelihoods in the process.



…thank you for reading this story. Our mission is to make them freely accessible to everyone, no matter where they are. 

We believe that lasting and impactful change starts with changing the way people think. That’s why we amplify the diverse voices the world needs to hear – from local restoration leaders to Indigenous communities and women who lead the way.

By supporting us, not only are you supporting the world’s largest knowledge-led platform devoted to sustainable and inclusive landscapes, but you’re also becoming a vital part of a global movement that’s working tirelessly to create a healthier world for us all.

Every donation counts – no matter the amount. Thank you for being a part of our mission.

Sidebar Publication

Related articles

Related articles