Rijal Idrus - PhD Research - Geography - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Rijal IdrusPh.D. Research Profile: Rijal Idrus

An Integrated Management Approach to Sustainable Development of Coastal Resources in South Sulawesi , Indonesia (A Case Study on Coral Reefs and Mangroves Utilisations)

Research Overview

Church ruins

Two different worlds. Tropical coastal areas are often perceived as a place to lay back and relax in...


The daily life of coastal communities and their livelihood are in fact quite the opposite.


Typical fishing village in Indonesia

Blasting away.. Catching fish with dynamite...

and the impact on coral reefs.

A great deal of mangrove area, once pristine, has been converted into intensive shrimp-pond farming.

My research is motivated by the paradoxical circumstances faced by many coastal communities in developing countries. In Indonesia, for example, on the one hand it is believed that the coastal areas is rich in natural resources but on the other hand coastal communities, especially fishing communities, are among the poorest folk in the country. Another paradox is the belief that these people have the traditional knowledge of respecting nature and regard\environmental conservation above everything else. The fact is that the tropical coastal ecosystems, the coral reefs and the mangroves, are destroyed right in front of their very eyes, in many cases by the people whose livelihood depends on them. These paradoxes therefore leads me to the central question of my research: if the sustainability of these resources are so vital for their livelihood, why are these resources continuously being degraded and even destroyed?

This research is essentially an attempt to provide an appropriate approach to responding to the developmental challenges faced by developing countries in managing their coastal resources. Such an approach is especially crucial in a setting where society is just recovering from an economic crisis and is on its way to transforming its institutional arrangements and socio-political structures, such as in Indonesia today. My interest in this subject is derived from my past experience of working in coastal areas. The research will lead to critical analysis of the theoretical underpinnings and philosopical basis of the practical matters I have encountered and picked up along the way.

I am going to investigate the motives and consequences of methods of coastal resource utilisation, and to examine the potential for sustainable livelihood from coastal resources under the threat of destructive use patterns. The outcome of this research will provide an insight into the dynamic couplings of human and natural aspects of coastal resource systems, and will therefore help to improve the decision making process and policies affecting coastal communities. Through examining the use and management of the two major coastal ecosystems that occur in the research area, mangroves and coral reefs, my research aims to establish an integrated approach to coastal resource management that addresses the conditions faced by Indonesia in its present socio-political context and in the context of ongoing economic development. In a broader sense, this study also aims to develop a better understanding of how the principles of sustainable development can be implemented in a developing-country context.

Like many developing countries, Indonesia is currently under heavy pressure to maintain development imperatives via the use of environmental resources while maintaining ecosystem attributes such as productivity and diversity (Bengen and Dutton, 2004; Nontji, 2003). As an island archipelago fringed by eighty-one thousand kilometres of coastline, Indonesia 's coastal resources are central to the country's economic-environment development matrix. In addition to development pressures, over the last 7 years Indonesia has been faced with the transition from four decades of centralised rule to more regionally-focussed environmental resource use and management (Dahuri, 2003).

The effectiveness of the current institutional arrangements for making decisions that address the multitude of interests and competing uses of coastal resources and the structure of the decision-making support system responsible for the management of coastal and marine resources in Indonesia will be explored through three major steps comprise of: (1) an assessment of the resource-use pattern in specific coastal areas of Indonesia, (2) an assessment of the sustainability of coastal resource use and (3) institutional arrangement and policy analyses. These steps will be framed within the context of environmental-management theory and ecological economics analyses (Brown et al. , 2002; Turner et al. , 2001; and Costanza et al. , 2001).

Outcomes of this research are expected to include (1) a synthesis of the coastal resource management system currently in place in Indonesia; (2) a theoretical framework that describes the dynamic couplings of natural (environment) and human (socioeconomic) aspects of coastal resource systems; and (3) a working model of coastal-resource management and planning which may be used to address coastal resource problems in this developing area. The integrated approach generated from this research is aimed at enhancing the planning and decision-making mechanisms for the sustainable use of coastal resources.

From a more global perspective, the theoretical framework derived in this study will enrich the body of knowledge addressing the problems of sustainable development in coastal areas. Appropriate synthesis of such knowledge will be an important contribution in the attempt to facilitate developing countries to pursue a sustainable mode of coastal area development.

Fieldwork activities in this research comprise an attempt to cover eight research sites, each with its own distinct pattern of coastal resource use and management. The map shows the l ocation of these eight local case study field sites (A-H) in Indonesia . Sites A to D are coral reef study locations, and Sites E to H are mangrove study locations . Click for a larger image.


Bengen, D.G. and Dutton, I.M. 2004. Interactions: mangroves, fisheries, and forestry management in Indonesia . In T.G. Northcote and G.F. Hartman (eds). Fishes and Forestry. Worldwide Watershed Interactions and Management. Blackwell Publ. London . pp: 633-653.

Brown, K., Tompkins, E.L., and Adger, W.N. 2002. Making Waves. Integrating Coastal Conservation and Development. Earthscan Publ, London . 164p.

Costanza, R., Low, B.S., Ostrom, E., and Wilson, J. 2001. Institutions, Ecosystems and Sustainability. Lewis Publ. Washington D.C. 270p.

Dahuri, R. 2003. Keanekaragaman Hayati: Aset Pembangunan Berkelanjutan Indonesia (Biodiversity: Indonesian Sustainable Development Asset). Gramedia Pustaka Utama, Jakarta . 412p.

Nontji, A. 2003. Coral Reefs of Indonesia : Past, Present and Future. In K. Moosa, S. Darsono (eds.) Proceedings of 9 th International Coral Reefs Symposium, Bali, Indonesia 23-27 October 2000, Vol 1. LIPI, Jakarta .

Turner, R.K., Bateman, I.J., and Adger, W.N. (eds). 2001. Economics of Coastal and Water Resources: Valuing Environmental Functions. Kluwer Acad Publ. London. 342p.


Dr Deirdre Hart
Department of Geography

Professor Eric Pawson
Department of Geography