Young Pioneer from Sendang Biru
The destruction of mangrove forests prompted restoration work on the south coast of Malang Regency, East Java. Lia Putrinda and her father have consistently been on the front lines.
THE coronavirus pandemic has transformed almost all parts of the world in an instant. The same goes for the Tiga Warna Clungup Mangrove Conservation (CMC). The mangrove conservation ecotourism area in Tambakrejo village, Malang Regency, East Java, has been temporarily closed to visitors since March 23 to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
But Lia Putrinda Anggawa Mukti—the founder of the Bhakti Alam Sendang Biru Foundation, which manages Tiga Warna CMC—believes that conservation work still has to continue. While thinking of ways to allow local villagers to have an earning when activities are restricted, the 26-year-old woman and five to six members of the foundation take turns going to the field to observe the 118-hectare area they manage. “I actually prefer seeing current conditions. We can see in detail how much of the ecosystem has been restored,” Lia told Tempo on Thursday, April 23.
That afternoon, Lia had just returned from the conservation site, where she had performed observation since morning. The coastal restoration work, which Lia began with her father Saptoyo in 2004, has indeed expanded beyond the Clungup and Gatra Beaches. Their conservation activities have also grown more diverse. At the Bangsong and Teluk Asmara Beaches, for example, Lia and her group are restoring and protecting sea turtle nesting sites, where the animals lay their eggs. Meanwhile, the group is enforcing coral reef conservation at the Savana, Mini, Watu Pecah and Tiga Warna Beaches.
Now, this edge of the Indian Ocean—around two hours of travel to the south of Malang City center—has turned greener, with mangrove forests lining the coast. Beds of seagrass and coral reefs are protected on several points in the small strait that separates Java Island from Sempu Island, a 877-hectare sanctuary known as the home of Danau Segara Anakan.
Conditions were different almost two decades ago. Lia still remembers the ride with her father on his Honda Win 100 motorcycle in 2004. They rode along Clungup Beach, around 3 kilometers to the west of their home near the Tambakrejo fish auction site. At the time, the father told stories about his childhood on a beach full of mangrove, home to a variety of birds and fishes.
Saptoyo’s stories were a sharp contrast to what young Lia saw. There was almost nothing left of the mangrove forest. And the coast was arid. The crisis was even more apparent in 2005, when there was a dearth of fish. The little girl asked her father to think of ways to return Clungup to how it was in the old days. “My words were like a trigger,” said Lia, laughing.
The father and daughter agreed to replant mangrove in Clungup. They planted mangrove trees using their own money. Now they are both at the front lines of Clungup Beach’s mangrove conservation.
But, like in many other places, the conservation movement in Clungup has not always run smoothly. It took over a decade for Lia and her father to develop Tiga Warna CMC into what it is today. The difficult work of drawing the interest of local communities to join the coastal restoration effort was their first challenge. The reason was simple: the social activities to restore the environment did not earn money.
Everything began to change after 2011. At the time, Lia, who was attending high school in the city of Malang, supported her father’s work from afar through the communication she built with universities and related government offices. They were then acquainted with a mentoring program for monitoring community groups under the maritime and fisheries office, involving mentors from Brawijaya University’s expert team.
Lia encouraged Saptoyo to form a monitoring community unit in the Sendang Biru hamlet, Tambakrejo village, armed with his six-year experience replanting Clungup’s mangrove forest. The community was enthusiastic at first. As many as 78 people joined the group. As monitors, they would routinely supervise marine resources, mangrove, coral reefs, seagrass beds, as well as beach forests on land. But almost three years later, most of the members had withdrawn. Some chose to clear land and build food stalls on conservation land, something that is prohibited.
Because there was not enough people, the monitoring group was forced to involve personnel from outside the region in 2013. In the same year, Lia, who had entered her first year as a communications student at the Brawijaya University, intended to leave the university and return home to help monitor the conservation area. Her mother, Tri Andar Karyati, was at first resistant to the decision. In the end she gave her blessing, but on the condition that Lia had to soon marry. She then married Ruzzo Bhirawa Purwantara, with whom she has two children.
The next challenge came two years later. Lia still remembers that day, Saturday, May 30, 2015, vividly. She, Saptoyo, and a non-governmental organization official received a visit from the police, who proceeded to read out an arrest warrant for alleged corruption and trespassing.
According to Lia, Sendang Biru’s community group had indeed been receiving donations. They were able to gather Rp70 million from voluntary donations. She was unaware of how the police got to accuse them of corruption. But the case was terminated because they were able to exhibit the foundation’s detailed financial records. Lia and her father returned home after spending a night in jail.
The incident left a deep mark in Lia’s memory. But since then, the local community’s attention to conservation work has only solidified. Apparently, the area’s tourism activities, which include planting mangrove, playing on hidden beaches, and snorkeling, were appealing to tourists from the city.
Once again Lia played her role as the eye and ear of her father, who busied himself with planting mangrove. At the end of 2015, she joined the East Java Ecotourism Forum. It was through this forum, whose members include academicians and tourism practitioners, that Lia learned that the activities run by the community group at Sendang Biru’s beaches fall under the category of ecotourism.
But there was a time when the tourism element caused concern among Lia and several people in the monitoring group’s management. They knew that tourism had the potential to create new problems as tourists often showed little attention to the environment. Their concern was proven when the increase of visitors to Sendang Biru resulted in more trash.
This lesson encouraged Lia to initiate the Bhakti Alam Sendang Biru Conservation Community Organization. The organization—the predecessor to the Bhakti Alam Sendang Biru Foundation, which was established in 2016—was meant to enforce stricter rules for visitors. Now visitors have their belongings inspected and fines are given to those who litter in Tiga Warna CMC. “This way, ecotourism and conservation activities’ management is more strucutred,” said Lia.
Chair of the East Java Ecotourism Forum, Agus Wiyono, calls the ecotourism practices implemented by Tiga Warna CMC as the best and most comprehensive environmental tourism management in Indonesia so far. “They have a strong conservation vision-mission and are not tempted by mass tourism,” said Wiyono.
The Bhakti Alam Sendang Biru Foundation now oversees 109 local residents, who manage Tiga Warna CMC. An additional 1,000 people are part of agroforestry and tourism assistance groups. According to Lia, these are the people who have managed to develop the Tiga Warna CMC conservation movement packaged under tourism. “I’m only doing the advisory side,” she said.
Lia is attempting to solve yet another problem: caderization. This is why she has launched the Sidolan program. Sidolan is an acronym of sinau and dolan, meaning to learn and play. Lia says conservation is not only important to those living now, “But also for future generations.”
Treasurer of the Bhakti Alam Sendang Biru Foundation, 38-year-old Marta Fitri Yuliana, sees Lia as a problem solver. “When people hear her name, they are convinced that whatever is being done will succeed,” said Fitri. She says Lia often acts as a mediator when there are problems in the ecotourism team, involving older and younger groups. “Everyone is willing to listen to her.”
Lia Putrinda Anggawa Mukti
Place and date of birth: Malang, June 8, 1993
Education: St. Albertus Malang Catholic High School
- Adibakti Mina Bahari, Coastal Area Development Category (2015)
- First Place, Young Pioneers in the Natural Resources and Environmental Field (2016)
- 72 Icons of Indonesian Achievement in Social Entrepreneurship (2017)
- East Java Top Young People in the Ecotourism Development Sector (2018)