Rehabilitation of a mangrove-mud coast in Timbul Sloko


Communities in Northern Java are suffering from coastal erosion affecting hundreds of kilometres of coastline. In the district of Demak more than 3 kilometres of land including entire villages have already been swallowed up by the sea. Next video shows the situation of the coastline as per 2013.

Should nothing have been undertaken, unfortunately ‘business as usual’ at that time, the result around 2030 would be a fully flooded area with evacuated villages and land loss due to unsustainable groundwater extraction, mangrove loss and expected sea level rise, affecting over 70,000 people and 6000 hectares of aquaculture ponds. In the long run 30 million people in Northern Java may be affected by coastal erosion.

Instead of fighting nature with dams and dikes, Building with Nature solutions work with and along the dynamics of nature. For example, by restoring ecosystems so that they once more provide protection against extreme events and offer valuable ‘natural capital’ (shell-fish, timber or recreational opportunities for example).

In the Building with Nature programme in Demak, stable (restored) mangrove coastlines are built that reduce flood risk, erosion and saline intrusion and can adapt to sea level rise. Local stakeholders – including communities – are involved in design, construction and maintenance of measures. Simultaneously a multi-stakeholder approach is taken for the introduction of sustainable multi-functional land uses that enables inclusive economic growth once the coastline is stable. Through its policy trajectories, the Building with Nature measures are supported through village development plans and regulations on land use rights, protected areas and coastal zone management and Demak district and Central Java Provincial policies, as well as adaptation and disaster risk management.

This altogether leads to a so-called ‘dream scenario’ by 2030.

Three objectives of the program have been defined:

  1. Rehabilitation of mangrove coastal protection system.
    The mangrove coastline has deteriorated due to erosion, aggravated by less effective control measures, leading to loss of valuable land and aquaculture ponds. The objective is to restore the coastal system, by building stable (restored) mangrove coastlines that reduce flood risk, erosion and saline intrusion and can adapt to sea level rise. Moreover, organic litter from mangroves enrich the water and may improve water quality, and mangrove roots absorb heavy metals. This all can be achieved through a holistic and stakeholder inclusive approach with local communities, governments, ecologists, socio-economists and engineers.
  2. Revitalisation of aquaculture ponds.
    Once a stable coastline has been restored, aquaculture ponds can be revitalised, and new ones can be created. Thus, a model is introduced for sustainable aquaculture and alternative livelihoods that provides space for mangrove restoration and enhances the prosperity of local communities so that they can sustain the mangrove greenbelt
  3. Training of local inhabitants for self-supportiveness.
    The above objectives shall be attained and maintained by the local people. In this way they become ‘owner’ of the re-development, bringing the Building with Nature approach into mainstream coastal zone management, in particular into regional master plans for sustainable coastal zone management and development and risk reduction in Northern Java

This project page describes the activities to achieve the three objectives separately, as if they were three projects. In reality, actions for one objective will always be connected to interference with the other objectives.