Summary: Belitung mangrove forest development is a new natural attraction that is expected to improve public’s interest in mangrove conservation.
Mangrove habitats in Belitung are still relatively pristine, and the local government has decided to develop Belitung mangrove as natural attraction for tourism and facility to increase public’s interest in conservation. In 2015, the Department of Forestry started a thorough development project aimed to turn mangroves in Belitung into parts of natural tourism in the island. This way, the local government and communities will be more motivated to take care and preserve the mangrove habitat.
The mangrove-related activities are offered as eco tourism, and also a new way to approach traveling trend, especially in the era when many people becoming more conscious about environment and impact from tourism activities.
Belitung Mangrove Habitat as Tourist Destination
There are good reasons why the government wants to develop Belitung mangrove habitats as tourist destinations. Bangka Island, the neighbor of Belitung and a part of Bangka Belitung Province, has faced rampant damage of mangrove habitats because of tin mining, housing development, and illegal logging activities.
About 70 percents of Bangka’s mangrove habitats have been damaged, and they need massive efforts for recovery. Meanwhile, Belitung mangrove habitat is still relatively intact and pristine, and the Department of Forestry decided to do preventive actions so what happened to Bangka mangrove does not happen in Belitung.
One of the efforts is developing and preserving about 500 hectares wide of mangrove habitat in Bangka as conservation facility and natural attraction for tourism. The main areas that become target for this mangrove forest development are Tanjung Pandan, Selat Nasik, and Pengantungan. If these projects are successful, the local government and Department of Forestry plan to develop mangrove habitats in other areas as well.
Belitung Mangrove as Eco Tourism
Belitung is now famous as a place for eco tourism, and this is supported by environment-conscious community such as Kelompok Peduli Lingkungan Belitung. The eco tourism plan is concocted by working together with locals, who also support efforts to save natural resources in their area while getting revenues from tourism.
Some interesting activities offered for travelers include:
· Outbound activities.
· Family and children-related activities.
· Jungle trekking, diving and snorkeling.
· Boating trip in the mangrove habitat, with guide explaining about the mangrove habitat and ecosystem.
· Visits to mangrove rehabilitation and conservation educational facilities.
Some travel agents or tourism companies such as Belitung Holiday Tour and Travel also offer Paket tour Belitung that offer activities related to mangrove eco-tourism, such as jungle trekking, diving, boating, outbound, and even honeymoon trips. The packages are offered to both national and foreign tourists, increasing consciousness about environment, especially mangrove conservation.
Prospects of Belitung Mangrove Tourism
Many activities related to eco tourism in Belitung’s mangrove habitats have attracted numerous interests, and more people now become more conscious about the importance of keeping mangrove habitat intact. If the program is successful, the local government plans to develop more mangrove habitats, and educate more people about the importance of conserving mangrove.
With eco tourism development and partnership with the locals, Belitung mangrove habitats can be developed and taken care of for many years to come.