Reflections from IFSA LC IPB Delegation on the 45th IFSS 2017 in South Africa
Picture and text by Ari Bima Putra and Fitri Nadhira
Two students from the Faculty of Forestry, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) were given the opportunity to represent Indonesia at the 45th International Forestry Students Symposium (IFSS) from July 2nd – 17th, 2017 in South Africa. Ari Bima Putra from the Department of Forest Products Technology and Fitri Nadhira from the Department of Forest Resources and Ecotourism Conservation were elected to be the IPB delegation to the land of the rainbow for this annual event held by the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA). These two students represented the International Forestry Students Association Local Committee of IPB (IFSA LC-IPB).
About 120 forestry students from around the world attended the event, which has previously been held in Austria and Germany. The themes of the event were “Practicing forestry in a diverse environment” and “Siyaphi: Where to from here?” The themes were presented as a representation of the diversity of natural wealth that is found in the southernmost countries on the African continent.
The IFSA LC-IPB delegation presented a scientific article about community-based mangrove edu-ecotourism management. The topic of mangrove forests was very interesting to explore as not all countries in the world have this kind of forest. Indonesia has a large mangrove forest, which accounts for 23% of world’s total mangrove forest. The amount of mangrove forests in Indonesia continues to decline every year as the result of coastal reclamation and land conversion for other uses. FAO notes that in the last three decades Indonesia has lost 40% of its mangrove forests.
Community-based mangrove edu-ecotourism is expected to be the solution for managing mangrove forests in Indonesia. Cultural practices such gotong-royong (cooperation by members of a community to achieve a common goal) and mutual assistance in Indonesia has been well implemented. This good culture must be promoted and applied in order to build the sustainable mangrove forest ecotourism sector. This is a very interesting topic to discuss at this international forest forum.
They hope that mangrove forests can be managed properly. Like coral reefs, mangrove forests are extremely productive ecosystems that provide numerous goods and services to both the marine environment and people. The dense root systems of mangrove forests can trap sediments flowing down rivers and off the land. These benefits help stabilize the coastline and prevent erosion from waves and storms. Mangroves have an important role in protecting the beach from waves, wind, and storms. Mangroves will become a means of tourism by utilizing the community around the coast to manage and maintain the area, providing social and economical benefits.
The theme of this international symposium was about changing the dimensions of the forest in recent decades. In the language of Xhosa “Siyaphi” means “where will we go?” Although it has a broad meaning, this theme prioritizes current world forestry issues such as clean water and carbon exchange. The sessions of the program included a general assembly, student presentations, workshops, and a field trip, and took place in five cities in Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZuli-Natal, and Gauteng. However, the activities were mostly centered at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, George, and Western Cape.
The two representatives of IPB had the opportunity to visit some of the historical and distinctive places in South Africa. One of them is the Biko Center, which is a museum that exhibits many memorabilia of the struggle of black people in fighting against racism and injustice. In addition, they visited Kruger National Park, an area that presents the exotic savanna region. Some other places were also very interesting like the highly developed South African forest industries.
“This international event is also the medium to promote Indonesian culture and the beauty of the forest from each country,” Bima said.
Ari Bima Putra and Fitri Nadhira
IFSA LC Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) Indonesia