The well-being of our planet, in particular of our oceans, is a matter that has always been very close to my heart. When I travelled to the stunning islands of Raja Ampat earlier this year (as I shared in a post on Instagram a few months back) we came across a line of plastic pollution in the ocean, on our way back to the main port. What hit me in that moment was that in my desire to choose a life in truth, I also choose to create environments where we gently bring to light what we might be pushing down. And that journey in itself is uncomfortable. We are in the middle of our efforts of preserving our planet as best as we can.
As a part of our #changetheworldalittle initiative we have teamed up with the wonderful Nadine Chandrawinata, former Miss Indonesia 2005, avid environmental activist and co-founder of the #Seasoldier foundation that has been established in 2015 by Nadine and Dinni Septianingrum to spread awareness around environmental issues all over Indonesia. #Seasoldier Indonesia stands as a youth-driven environmental movement that stems from the commitment to change people’s life patterns into caring about the environment.
Over the course of the past years #Seasoldier has brought to life four different environmental programs tackling different environmental issues of urgency here in Indonesia – with pollution, global warming, air pollution, deforestation and soil contamination to be the leading issues in the country. The four main projects are #BersihkanWarungku (education for local Warungs/small local shops/stalls about waste problems and the necessity of recycling waste), #DolphinSoldier (educating children on the natural habitat of dolphins and why dolphins shows are not good for them), Trees/Mangrove Conservation, and #PondokPemuda (youth education to become ambassadors of change). #Seasoldier is active in over 15 regions of Indonesia.
I instantly felt the call to support this inspiring movement which is why we decided to support the Mangrove Conservation project by joining hands and contribute a part of our proceeds to the planting of 150 mangrove trees in Bali and Borneo in the month of June which we will personally attend and support in the course of the planting as well.
Why Mangrove conservation?
"If there are no mangrove forests, then the sea will have no meaning. It is like having a tree with no roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea."— fisherman, Trang Province, southern Thailand
‘Indonesia has more than 20% of the world’s mangrove area, totalling 3.2 million hectares. It also boasts the highest richness of mangrove species. They are recognised by the Indonesian government as a natural buffer and a cost-effective measure to protect coastal areas and villages’, according to mangrovealliance.org
A large proportion of Indonesia’s coastline is vulnerable to tsunamis and sea level rise and there is a growing body of literature showing that mangroves in Indonesia have been significantly degraded. Threats include shrimp aquaculture, coastal development, natural disasters, and timber and plantation development
Mangroves provide essential habitat for thousands of species. They also stabilise shorelines, preventing erosion and protecting the land — and the people who live there — from waves and storms.
Mangrove forests are incredibly important ecosystems that work hand in hand with coral reefs and seagrass beds.
5 main reasons why mangroves matter
1. Biodiversity and Nursing ground. Home to an incredible array of species, mangroves are biodiversity hotspots. They provide nesting and breeding habitat for fish and shellfish, migratory birds, and sea turtles.
They further provide ideal breeding grounds for much of the world's fish, shrimp, crabs, and other shellfish. Many fish species, such as barracuda, tarpon, and snook, find shelter among the mangrove roots as juveniles, head out to forage in the seagrass beds as they grow, and move into the open ocean as adults.
2. Livelihoods. Rural communities such as fishers and farmers depend on their natural environment to provide for their families. Healthy mangrove ecosystems mean healthy fisheries from which to fish, and healthy land on which to farm.
3. Water. Mangroves are essential to maintaining water quality. With their dense network of roots and surrounding vegetation, they filter and trap sediments, heavy metals, and other pollutants.
4. Coastal defense. Mangroves are the first line of defense for coastal communities. They stabilize shorelines by slowing erosion and provide natural barriers protecting coastal communities from increased storm surge and flooding. Robust mangrove forests are natural protection for communities vulnerable both to sea level rise and the more intense and frequent weather events caused by climate change.
5. Carbon storage. Indonesia’s mangroves are among the most carbon-rich forests in the world. Mangroves sequester carbon at a rate two to four times greater than mature tropical forests and store three to five times more carbon per equivalent area than tropical forests like the Amazon rainforest. This means that conserving and restoring mangroves is essential to fighting climate change that is already having disastrous effects on communities worldwide. At the same time, mangroves are vulnerable to climate change as sea level rise pushes ecosystems inland.
In line with our upcoming collaboration with #Seasoldier we have spoken with Nadine directly. Here is a little interview:
What made you choose the ocean as your area of focus? Can you tell us about your personal connection to the ocean?
The sea made me learn to get to know myself, so I learned how to express myself from the inside out. The sea made me understand how important it is for us humans to be a part of nature. From this realisation came the desire to express my gratitude for her and say 'thank you' to nature by living and maintaining a more balanced life. To enjoy nature while protecting nature so that future generations can also enjoy the benefits and beauty of nature.
How did #Seasoldier come to be? Can you tell us about your foundation - Sea soldier’s vision for environmental work?
In the beginning I traveled a lot, which made me feel my close connection to nature. It is not possible to attend and take care of the entire of Indonesia’s nature as just a single person. But I have to ability to initiate a greater vision. #Seasoldier is now active in 15 different regions all over Indonesia.
Each region has different actions and projects based on the environmental issue in the region. All of our collaborations and work is infused with the support of the people, the style and culture of this particular region with one common vision: that is to protect nature by leading a life in balance.
We have the ability to protect nature from those around us, no matter if we live in cities or villages.
If you allowed yourself to dream - what is your biggest goal/what would be your biggest achievement with and for #Seasoldier?
More and more people are digging into their curiosity to protect nature and to learn more about the possibilities to support. It is my dream and hope that more and more people will find their own reasons to take care of nature.
What are the three things that give you energy in life? How do you stay balanced especially during these times we live in?
Be grateful, think positive, and dare to speak up. In order to stay balanced, think of living simply. We shall seek what we need, not what we want.
We are super excited for this project and can’t wait to share with you the results of our mangrove planting next month!
In the meantime, if you are interested to learn more about #Seasoldiers or donate to any of their activities, head over to #Seasoldier's instagram page to learn more.
#Seasoldier via Instagram (@seasoldier_)