Young Guardians of the Coast
A line of mangrove saplings planted by locals along the beach in West Yensawai Village, Bantata Island, Raja Ampat, West Papua, March 25, 2022.
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – SEVERAL teenage girls walked slowly toward the beach of West Yensawai. They were not afraid to wade deeper into the tidal water, which eventually reached as high as their belly. Then, they dove in to show the location where the seagrass is planted. They are members of the Seagrass Group, one of the groups responsible for implementing the West Papua integrated coastal region management design program in West and East Yensawai villages, Raja Ampat, West Papua. The group, led by Linani Arifin, consists of 21 members, mostly teenage girls of junior high school age. “Because we want to know, increase our knowledge,” said Tiara Saleo telling her reason for joining the group. “We are taught how to plant, remove, and clean the seagrass,” added Martince.
Linani Arifin, head of the Seagrass Group, and teenage members of the group in the background who are showing the seagrass transplantation area at the beach in West Yensawai. Bantata Island, Raja Ampat, West Papua, March 25, 2022.
That Friday afternoon, March 25, Tiara Saleo, Lili Ompes—both 8th-grade junior high school students; Stela Omkarsba, a 7th-grade junior high school student; and Martince, a high school graduate, took turns explaining why they wanted to be part of the Seagrass Group. At first, they did not know why seagrass is important for the ecosystem in their village. Now they can easily explain the reasons. “To resist abrasion, protect smaller fish, and also a habitat for dugongs, sea turtles…,” said Stela.
They received education and training from the Center for Coastal and Marine Resources Studies of the Bogor Agriculture Institute (PKSPL IPB) team. According to Linani Arifin, children and teenagers are deliberately involved in the activities because they are more willing and enthusiastic. “When called, they immediately join.”
Some members of the Seagrass Group who are tasked with rehabilitating seagrass in West Yensawai and East Yensawai Villages in North Bantata District, Raja Ampat, West Papua, March 25, 2022.
Not only the Seagrass Group, the Coral Reef Group also sees plenty of involvement from children and teenagers. “It’s even amounting to around 80 percent,” said Nurdana Pertiwi, a facilitator from the PKSPL IPB. According to Konstantinus Saleo, the coordinator of the rehabilitation program for coral reef, mangrove and seagrass ecosystem, there are 23 children and teenagers involved in the coral reef team. They have previously been active in various nature conservation activities in the Raja Ampat Coastal Children Community. “So that after us, there will be new ones,” he said.