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July 14, 2014

Mangrove Forest, Nusa Lembongan

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The boat trip along the Mangrove Forest in Nusa Lembongan
Nothing is more gratifying than seeing human beings live in harmony with the nature around them. I found that phenomenon in Nusa Lembongan, a small island between Bali and Lombok. Here a Mangrove Forest is very well taken care of by the local community.

We started our trip from a landing where local seaweed farmers dried their seaweeds. The boat strolled along the shallow canals in this forest, where the Mangroves' canopy generously shaded our route from the afternoon sun. At least there are five different types of mangroves growing here, and our boatman, Mr. Made, could recognize all of them. Proudly he said that his whole community members take care of this forest, because "it is the place where fish around here breed", "it protects our coast", and "it gives us extra income". Three valid reasons indeed. 

Not all parts of this mangrove are made accessible to the tourist, to allow the trees to grow fully and to ensure that wild animals in this Mangrove ecosystem own its sanctuary. As our boat moved slowly, some cranes and biawak - the giant lizards - were seen. Baby fish, shrimps, and crabs were swimming around the slender roots of the mangrove trees. The intact forest allows them to breed properly, and as the boat moved off the coast to the open sea, we could see that the rich ecosystem has allowed the nearby open water to grow healthy coral reefs packed with colorful fish. That area, called Mangrove Point, becomes an exciting diving and snorkeling spot where everyone jumping into the water will instantly be surrounded by hundreds of fish.

After the Mangrove Forest and Mangrove Point trip, we stopped by a small food stall and found out that to protect the coral, the local community avoided the use of fishnet to catch the fish. Instead, they use spears to hunt the fish. I have traveled to other islands and coastal communities in Indonesia before I arrived in Nusa Lembongan. This is the very first time that I found a community with such awareness, and made it their daily practice. It was, indeed, beautiful to see human beings who did not take more than what they needed.

A peaceful afternoon by the beach, after the boat trip

Off the shore, here is how the forest looks

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