The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
UCA News

Timor Leste

Timor-Leste sows mangrove seeds to restore ecosystem

Church warns that the trees must be monitored to make sure they take root and grow

Thomas Ora, Dili

Thomas Ora, Dili

Updated: March 01, 2017 11:14 AM GMT
Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Timor-Leste sows mangrove seeds to restore ecosystem
People plant mangroves near Hera in Timor-Leste. The government says that mangrove forests have been damaged due to El-Nino and illegal cutting for fire wood. (Photo by Thomas Ora)
Share this article :
Timor-Leste's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Environment has launched a joint effort to tackle coastal abrasion by restoring about twelve hectares of mangroves which were damaged by El-Nino or cut down for firewood.

Dozens of government officials, environmental activists and church representatives were present at a recent planting of mangroves in Hera village, part of Dili district, one of the country's largest mangrove areas.

Joao Carlos Soares, director-general for the environment department at the ministry, said that the government was aware of the urgent need to look after the country's coast.

"If we do not conserve now, Timor-Leste's mangroves will disappear and our coastal areas will face a natural disaster," he told

He said that in 2017 Timor-Leste will receive US$7.8 million from international environmental groups channeled through the United Nations Development Program for the rehabilitation of mangroves, mostly on the country's northern coast.

However, Divine Word Father Kornelis Key, an environmental activist and parish priest of St. Tiago Church in Hera, not far from the restoration site, said that the government must focus on sustainable mangrove restoration, rather than just wasting money on temporary projects.

"The government must spend money on sustainability and maintenance," he said, adding that there were instances where government officials and non-governmental groups planted mangroves but never monitored their growth.

Nevertheless, he supported the program because it is in line with the church's mission, particularly Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato si — a call to care for the environment — published in May 2015.

"What we want is that they monitor what they have planted, not just abandon them," said Father Key, adding that he has also told people to stop cutting mangroves.

Antonio Marcos da Silva, the Hera village chief, said that there should be a synchronized effort between the government and the people.

"People are not aware that cutting mangroves will destroy the ecosystem," he said.

Elidio Ximenes, chairman of Flora and Fauna Conservation, said that the group has prepared 12,000 mangrove seedlings that will be planted on Timor-Leste's coasts, including near Hera village. "We are also studying the possibility of using mangrove fruit as food or medicine," he said

About 1,200 mangroves have been planted in Hera and other areas will follow.

Agus Dwi Jatmoko, director of Pertamina International Timor, a subsidiary of Indonesia's oil and gas company, Pertamina, who participated in the mangrove restoration, said that the company has planted 1,500 mangrove trees in Hera.

"The mangrove has an extraordinary function because it becomes the center of a new ecosystem and helps populations of small fish," he said.

Support UCA News...

UCA News provides a unique service, bringing you the voices of emerging churches and helping you see efforts made to evangelize and bring relief to people in all manner of need.

UCA News has more than 40 full time and part time reporters, editors and administrators bringing you this service from across 23 countries in south, southeast and east Asia. You, too, can be part of their efforts by contributing even a small amount to keep UCA News available to the world.
Click here to consider the options available to you.

Your contribution to UCA News will immensely help us continue to grow a strong media community by harnessing information technology to inform, engage, inspire and influence the Catholics of Asia and the world.

As a gesture of our gratitude to your commitment to UCA News, we are pleased to gift you a free PDF Book/e-Book titled Mission in Asia when you make a contribution.

UCA News Donate
UCA Newsletter
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution