(2009-11-23)

River cleanup project

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- Since June 2007 there has been a total ban on logging in Aceh because of the threat deforestation poses to the environment. Because of the illegal logging, many of the rivers and harbors are so filled with silt, fishermen cannot get their boats to unload their catch at the fish landing sites; they must anchor out at sea and use small boats to ferry in their catch. Making the problem worse is the abandoned fishing boats that either litter the shoreline or have sunk in the river. Their bows lie just beneath the surface and often cause damage to passing fishing boats that cannot see them.

Local boat builders started a new project last month aimed at cleaning up the Krueng Aceh River in Banda Aceh, potentially creating a new market for recycled wood. In November the Local Boat builders, Panglima Laot and Marine Police supported by American Joint Distribution Council and Mercy Corps began to change this situation. Armed with chainsaws, a grinder and a planer, they are lifting the remaining useful wood from the river, removing bolts and nails, and then restoring it.

However, the exciting thing about this project is that clearing the river is not an end itself, but rather only a means to the more long-sighted initiative of creating an eco-friendly wood supply in Aceh as well as creating a few jobs. Profits from the sale of wood are first go to pay the cleanup crew, a small amount is put towards the maintenance of the equipment; the reminder is then divided between the owner of the land on where the boat was abandoned, Panglima Laot Lhok.

e.g.

  • Cleanup crew 50%
  • Maintenance fund 5%
  • Panglima Laot Lhok 25%
  • Land owner/Tukane 20%

    This wood recovered from around the river will be sold and used for houses, furniture and repairing boats. Any unusable or rotten wood will be sold to local fish vendors for their fish drying/smoking process.

    If this project continues to be a success in Krueng Aceh, then perhaps it can be replicated in other parts of the province. The initiative is a positive indication that Aceh really is going green.

    The project officially started in Dec 1, 2009. As of Jan 7, 2010 we have 'recycled' or removed 31 boats.