Indonesia’s Bintan Island may lie adjacent to the busiest shipping lane in the world. But its tropical waters, miraculously, support an extraordinary variety of underwater habitat. These in turn provide a nursery for the likes of dugongs, dolphins, otters, turtles and many hundreds of fish species.

As with most marine environments, this habitat is under siege due to over-fishing, pollution and high sedimentation from adjacent illegal mining & forest clearing.

Jord’s Foundation team has uncovered one of those rare opportunities to get in on the ground floor of what will become an environmental program of international renown. An 1,815sq km area, over two times the size of Singapore, has been designated a Marine Protected Area. Jord has signed up as a founding partner, committing $290,000 over a three year period. Two stages of this program are now complete. The first entailed a detailed marine survey, lead by Conservation International’s (CI’s) marine biologists’ Dr Mark Erdmann and Dr Gerald Allen. This survey identified an extraordinary 425 different fish species, including multiple rare ones & a few totally new to science. It also established areas where the habitat requires a high level of protection, and others that can support sustainable fishing for the local villagers.

The 2nd stage involved engaging with a team from the Indonesian Government, universities and the local community and eco-resorts, to establish a management plan that not only protects the marine environment,but also provides long term sustainable development for local communities.

With these two stages now complete, our attention is focussed on executing the management plan. Just as we do with our Bush Heritage collaboration, there will be lots of opportunity for Jord staff to directly participate in supporting this Bintan MPA project over the coming years. This is a very special part of the world. And – once this pesky virus abates – being located so close to Singapore makes it readily accessible to us all. In addition to the 425 species of fish, you might see green sea turtles, hawksbill, turtles, dugongs, irrawaddy dolphins, otters and for the true believers, endless numbers of marine invertebrates,molluscs and crustacea – some unique and endemic to this area. Accomodation is not unacceptable either,with a number of island based eco-resorts operating within the MPA.