The Seagrass Ecosystem Services Project is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) and runs in partnership with the climate action Paris agreement 2015. The project aims to conserve biodiversity, seagrass ecosystems and their services across 5 Indo-Pacific countries (Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Thailand). National partners (often NGOs) work closely with coastal communities and technical experts to run community-led seagrass conservation work.

The first of our national partners involved in ‘The Seagrass Ecosystem Services Project’ that we would like to spotlight is YAPEKA, a non-profit organisation that aims to establish community-based conservation efforts across Indonesia through the concept of ‘Learning through nature’. This involves concentrating on building community awareness and developing education programmes to help communities sustainably manage their natural resources. The main areas of focus for YAPEKA are rural areas and key biodiversity sites such as MPAs and national parks. Establishing Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) are of high importance in rural areas that are dominated by fisheries communities, allowing them to develop their own unique coastal natural resource management.

YAPEKA team out in the field

Since 2013 they have been working with local communities in North Sulawesi to raise awareness on the importance of seagrass in preserving the health and sustainability of the region’s coastal ecosystems. In 2016, they introduced dugongs as flagship species for their conservation efforts.

A Baited Underwater Remote Video System (BRUVS) deployed in a seagrass meadow by YAPEKA

They are using Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS) to record fish assemblages within seagrass meadows without being invasive. These cameras can help show what fish species thrive in seagrass meadows and thus help show the importance of these ecosystems.

Some of the YAPEKA team out in Indonesia diving to deploy a Baited Remote Underwater Video System (BRUVS)

YAPEKA has many success stories:

  • In the early 2000’s, the Bahoi community set up a LMMA. Twenty years later, there is now bigger fish to catch and more biodiversity.
  • In 2019, YAPEKA won ‘best environmental civil society organisation’ in Indonesia. Also, their solid waste management project in the Gili Islands was listed in the top 20 ‘innovative ways to transform waste’ by UN-Habitat.
  • In January 2020, the Bulutui community decided to close their traditional octopus fisheries, only opening it once every 3 months for a 7-day window to reduce pressure on the population

One of our team is currently out in the Indo-Pacific, providing in person support to YAPEKA. We can’t wait to hear how their projects are going and we will provide updates where we can on here and across our social media.

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