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Maubere tribes revive customary law and set eco-rules to protect the ocean

Timor Leste


"Our forefathers practiced tara bandu to save forests and water sources.” said a local Biacou chief. Tara bandu is a customary law that governs the relationships between humans and their surroundings, restricting access to sacred spaces or restricting fishing, logging or damaging particular species. This traditional practice was outlawed during 25 years of Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste. Since independence in 2002, the tradition of tara bandu was revived and even expanded to include marine resources, mangroves and coral reefs. Six years have passed since Biacou revived tara bandu offering a path toward developing a sustainable, community-led model of natural resource use. “It has helped us sustainably exploit our fish stock, by curtailing villagers’ practice of fish bombing and poisoning. No fishing zones have allowed fish regeneration and balanced fish stocks, while mangrove areas grown denser than before and less coral is extracted."


Links: MongaBay article