The people of Oé-Cusse have a deep cultural link to their land and ZEESM TL reflects this in ensuring environmental protection is built into its economic development plan
Allowing forested areas to recover and grow is vital if the forests of Oé-Cusse are to thrive. In every village a forestry guard works to ensure the protection of growing and mature trees. An area has also been set aside for a future nature reserve. Working with the community of Leobatan, an area that is already considered culturally significant, but was sadly degraded, was chosen to be restored. The community has helped built a fence, marked areas for silviculture around the reserve, and trained each other in horticulture to increase the nutritional output of current agricultural areas. Read more in our agricultural section about these methods.
Organic methods of farming are actively encouraged. Local chemicals available in the markets are not suited to the environment in Oé-Cusse and damage the land, lowering its fertility. Cow dung and other freely available methods are more sustainable and cost effective. The food produced also has more nutrients, a vital output for a region with limited land. Read more in our agricultural section.
During the dry years of the El Niño part of the weather cycle the water supply is low. It is important that water recharge is protected even during water rich years to preserve supply for the dry ones. Water flow from the mountains to the coast, aquifer recharge rates and water management were taken into account when developing the Pante-Macassar drainage plan.
Traditionally there has always been times of the year when hunting was not allowed in Oé-Cusse. This principle has been built into the national law of Timor-Leste and ZEESM TL has encouraged its understanding in important areas. One such as area is the forest near Citrana, an area zoned for environmental friendly tourism. It is the largest tropical coastal forested area in the region. Due to the efforts of local village elders and environmentalists, hunting has been reduced.
Plans for urban development have been designed to ensure that even coral lying offshore from the most built up areas is preserved from run off. It is possible to view coral just meters off-shore from the main street of Pante-Macassar.
Where possible local replaceable materials were used, for example, stones from the Tono river were crushed into different size gradients for road building. Since this is a traditional economic activity, using local materials also increasing local employment.
As part of the planning process essential pieces of the environment are preserved. Ancient trees, sacred areas and beauty spots are avoided or integrated into the new structures where possible. For example, in front of the hospital a row of old trees was incorporated into the design of the road and hospital entrance. This design has now created a shady area at the hospital entrance for waiting relatives.