Mangroves and Timor Leste
Conservation projects are one of our key focuses as a company. A few weeks ago here at Dreamers Dive Academy Timor (DDA), we had the honor of participating in a Mangrove planting day. So maybe you are wondering, why would divers care about conservation of mangrove trees? Well, aside from the obvious fact that we advocate for all environments; mangroves are particularly important to the growth and maintenance of coral reefs. As well as entire coastlines. Here in Timor, we are excited to work with various groups. Not only to help spread knowledge of conserving natural habitats, but more importantly, why they should be protected.
The mangrove ecosystem
Mangrove ecosystems consist of large tangled colonies of trees. Some species are smaller and shrub-like while others stretched high up to the sky. All these species essentially work in similar ways. They root themselves in the overly salted marsh flood-plans of the coastline. The twisted cavern of winding roots serve as perfect nurseries. Hence protecting young fish from predators while they grow. Eventually heading out to the open sea and reef. Mangroves can support a large array of life, from fish and small invertebrates to different bird species, monkeys and crocodiles.
The sturdy trees also serve as a physical barrier between the land and sea. Allowing sediments from the land to filter through and settle down among their roots instead of flowing directly out to sea. The dirt and sediments would cover corals completely, stressing or even killing them. In addition, mangroves work to protect the coastline from severe erosion due to currents, waves and tides.
Issues facing Mangroves
With heavy road development and limited areas of flat, farmable land, mangroves in Timor face many challenges. Road expansion has seen areas leveled and paved. Local farmers clear out spaces in order to build houses. In addition to search for suitable farm land for raising cattle, pigs and goats. The presence of free ranging farm animals has been particularly harmful to young mangroves. Due to the animals coming through, eating leaves and digging up small trees in search of tasty snacks hiding in the ground.
Conservation of mangroves- So what can we do?
Through events like this mangrove planting day, we are able to aid the mangroves forests of East Timor. Young trees are raised in a nursery. Later they are planted on the outskirts of the existing forest. This gives a better chance for them to survive and merge into the ecosystem. As you drive along the coast in Timor Leste, you will see many areas where the mangroves have been fenced off in an effort to prevent livestock from entering.
On 28th July 2018, all the volunteers collectively planted around 200 trees! It truly is a wonderful experience to see the impact a small number of people can have when working together. And more so, it is uplifting to see so many Timorese people coming to assist with projects such as this. As DDA moves forward as a company, we strive to continue involving ourselves in environmental causes throughout East Timor and providing continuing education about the value of all environments with both Timorese locals and visitors alike!
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