©Jürgen Freund / WWF

Protecting mangroves in the Bird’s Head Seascape

Papua, Indonesia 

Written By: Dominic A. Andradi-Brown, Purwanto, Awaludinnoer, Nur Ismu Hidayat, Defy Pada, Irman Rumengan, Muhammad Erdi Lazuardi, Laura Veverka, Gabby N. Ahmadia 

Twenty-three Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been created within the Bird’s Head Seascape (BHS)1,2 in West Papua and Papua provinces, Indonesia, to protect some of the most diverse and tallest mangrove forests in the world.  

The BHS regional mangrove conservation effort is globally important3,4 as it contains approximately 10% of all the world’s mangroves. Three MPAs were created specifically to protect mangroves (Bintuni Bay, Sorong, and South Sorong), while the Kaimana City MPA boundaries deliberately included large mangrove stands alongside other ecosystems.  

Currently, 8% of mangrove forests within the region are within MPAs, and recent analysis shows mostly stable mangrove cover from 1996-2016. Some MPAs have begun trialing financing mechanisms based on mangrove blue carbon to increase their financial sustainability5.  

The MPAs have been established since the early 2000s by multiple levels of government, non-governmental organizations, and local communities.  

1. Mangubhai, S, et al, Papuan Bird’s Head Seascape: Emerging threats and challenges in the global center of marine biodiversity. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2012.
2. Purwanto, P, et al, The Bird’s Head Seascape Marine Protected Area network—Preventing biodiversity and ecosystem service loss amidst rapid change in Papua, Indonesia. Conservation Science and Practice, 2021.
3. Alongi, DM, Mangrove forests of Papua, in The Ecology of Papua, Part Two, AJ Marshall and BM Beehler, Editors 2007, Periplus Editions (HK): Singapore. p824-857.
4. Simard, M, et al, Mangrove canopy height globally related to precipitation, temperature and cyclone frequency. Nature Geoscience, 2019 12(1): p40-45.
5. Howard, J, et al, The potential to integrate blue carbon into MPA design and management. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 2017. 27(S1): p100-115.