Indonesian researchers tour area mangroves

Indonesian researchers tour area mangroves

17 April 2008

Tour part of nationwide visit to learn about sea grant program

By JASON WITZ

PUNTA GORDA — For Paulus Boli, the mangrove forests of Papua provide a vital barrier from coastal hazards like typhoons.

But restoring the natural habitat can prove difficult after a catastrophic storm.

Boli, along with a group of Indonesian researchers, visited Charlotte County Wednesday as part of a nationwide tour to learn about Sea Grant Extension programs.

The men visited the red mangrove shoreline fish habitat along the Peace River to view area restoration efforts. About 80 percent of the shoreline was destroyed by Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Boli, a lecturer at Papua State University, said he was excited to see the recovery efforts and how the two countries can learn from one another.

“We want to see how the program is done,” he said.

Aside from severe weather control, Mahatma Lanuru, a 37-year-old lecturer at Hassanuddin State University, said mangroves play a big role in reducing seawater intrusion and erosion in Indonesia.

“It’s very important to us,” he said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has an agreement with the Indonesian government to collaborate on research, and develop tsunami early warning systems in the Indian Ocean, as part of the Sea Grant Program.

In addition, NOAA works with the Indonesian Sea Partnership Program to provide scientific-based information to resolve marine and coastal problems.

The four researchers will spend a month in the United States, with several planned stops in Florida.

Mike Sprangher, Florida Sea Grant associate director for extension, said the agency decided to visit Charlotte County because of its ongoing efforts to restore damaged mangroves.

Following the hurricane, the agency gathered community volunteers to collect propagule seed pods to plant at the damaged spots. The project started in October, and is already producing results.

“Early on, we’re seeing success, but it’s going to be a long process,” said Betty Staugler, Charlotte County Florida Sea Grant Extension agent.

Source: The Sun-Herald