12 Mar Mahu Village Decree for the Protection of Natural Resources Catalyzes Wider Sustainable Dugong Conservation in Maluku Province

The enactment of Mahu Village Decree no. 3 of the year 2023 on the Protection of Natural Resources (Perlindungan Sumber Daya Alam) on August 24th, 2023, catalyzes wider sustainable dugong and seagrass habitat conservation in Lease Islands MPA. This was the expressed hope of stakeholders attending the socialization of the decree during the Department of Marine and Fisheries (DKP) Maluku Province NGO Partners Forum.

On February 1st, 2024, the Annual Meeting Forum took place at the DKP office. The meeting was attended by 43 participants (33 onsite and nine remote) from government agencies (DKP, PSPL Sorong, and Bappeda Maluku) and NGO partners (CTC, WWF-ID, RARE, MDPI, USAID BERIKAN, MSC, LMMA, Baileo, HAI, ECONUSA, IPNLF, and MCC). The objective of the meeting was to share NGO partners’ 2023 progress and work plan for 2024. A special invitation was extended to Negeri Mahu Government represented by Ibu Raja Christina Maritje Lawalata, treasurer Ms. H. Louhenapessy, and the Head of Badan Permusyawaratan Negeri, Mr. Jerry Sahusilawane.

In this event, Mrs. Lawalata shared her experience in successfully leading the development and establishment of the decree. The process was conducted accordingly with the Minister of Home Affairs Regulation no. 111/2004 on Technical Guidelines for Village Regulations: ensuring participation of Mahu local community, following the correct stages, and documenting the entire process including obtaining verification and harmonization from the Legal Bureau of Maluku Tengah District. Both Mr. Halid Pattisahusiwa, S.Sos (Head of Saparua Timur Sub-district) and Mr. Sahusilawane strongly agreed with this statement.  Mrs. Lawalata added “I hope it (the decree) can preserve natural resources and important biota, including dugongs in Negeri Mahu”.

Aiming to preserve and protect forest, marine, and coastal areas including resources in coastal areas, seas, and rivers, this decree also regulates the protection and conservation of dugong (Dugong dugon), one of Indonesia’s threatened and endangered species and their seagrass habitat. Not much is known about this charismatic species’ population – the 1992-1993 research findings recorded 22 to 37 were found only around the MPA including Mahu village. 

This success story might be different without the leadership of Mrs. Lawalata who is also the champion of CTC’s Kalesang Dugong Project. Since she took office as the traditional village leader in 2021, Mrs. Lawalata has made innovative breakthroughs in community empowerment programs to accelerate the improvement of the welfare of Negeri Mahu. 

The decree enactment sparks the interest of others to follow suit. For CTC, this milestone complements its capacity building activities aiming to increase community’s involvement in dugong and seagrass habitat conservation in the MPA. The DKP-led Forum enables effective knowledge and information sharing about this community-led initiative to wider stakeholders. As a result, many NGOs supporting the drafting of village regulations for dugong conservation have expressed their invitation to Mrs. Lawalata to visit other areas and share her experience with and help raise awareness amongst the local stakeholders there.

The Mahu Village Decree is a community-led initiative key for sustainable dugong and seagrass habitat conservation in the village. In addition, capacity building tailor-made for the community is also crucial to increase their involvement in conservation activities. Best practices on knowledge and information sharing also exist to inform this community-led initiative. When replicated in wider areas, it will amplify the results of the conservation of this umbrella species, seagrass habitat, and healthy coastal ecosystem for future generations. 

This decree was developed with the support from CTC together with Baileo Maluku Foundation through the CEPF-funded Kalesang Dugong Project in the Lease Islands MPA.

Writers: Olivia Sope, Purwanto, Gerald Istia
Photos: Kasman/CTC, Gerald Istia/CTC

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