We aim to revitalise degraded aquaculture ponds in Demak for milfish and shrimp farming. We also make sure that while aquaculture is revitalised, space is provided for mangrove restoration along the coast and rivers. Through Coastal Field Schools aquaculture farmers are trained to use more sustainable methods such as LEISA system in raising fish and shrimp. We seek to improve productivity of the farming system against lower costs, and in an ecologically sound way to minimise the adverse impact of the farming practice to the local coastal ecosystem.
Erosion problems in Demak, and along the wider shoreline of Northern Java cause catastrophic flooding during high tides, storm surges and periods of excessive rainfall. People are losing their houses, roads, and valuable land and are evacuating. In some places more than 3 km of land has already been taken by the sea and two entire villages have been engulfed. Many people experience a major loss in income, reaching up to 60-80% in some villages. The agri- and aquaculture sectors, key economic engines in Indonesia, also suffer multi-billion losses.
Hard structures like sea walls have proven to be ineffective as a single solution along rural mud-coasts and may even exacerbate erosion. They also tend to be expensive and they are incapable of adapting to changing circumstances such as sea level rise. Furthermore, they don't provide economic, environmental and social services. We are building a restored mangrove coastline that reduces flood risk, erosion and saline intrusion, that can adapt to sea level rise and allows the economy to revive. We do this by constructing grids of permeable dams to regain the land and restore the fine sediment balance. The dams are a temporary measure until healthy mangrove forests have returned. Local communities help with the construction work and we support them with the development of sustainable livelihood opportunities.
The Vernufteling award is a prestigious Dutch engineering award, which was won in 2016 by Building with Nature Indonesia.