Peat swamp forests in Kalimantan provide a wide range of benefits for humankind and other creatures. It is home to many unique plants and animals that can be only found in Kalimantan. Forests also provide social and economic benefits to the community, especially for the Indigenous People, Dayak People. Many villagers can source rattan, wood, herbs, resin, fish and fruits from the forest. But unfortunately, due to annual forest fires, we have lost thousands of hectares of our peat swamp forests. For this reason, Youth Act planted 500 trees to help with the renewal of a burned peat area.
Forest fires have led to many endemic trees in Central Kalimantan becoming endangered. These tree have economic value and hold our local wisdom, for example, the Balangeran tree. This tree produces fruit for birds and orangutans, along with materials for the building of Dayak homes. Many animals including the hornbill and the Borneo Red Cat have also lost their habitats due to such fires.
Although sometimes burned forests can restore themselves with the seeds of plants carried by wind or animals. This process takes anywhere from 5 years to 1000 years, depending on the types of tree - and in some cases, the forest will never recover. To preserve the existence of valuable species, we must focus on the reforestation of burned forest.
On the 18th of April, Youth Act conducted an event for planting trees to celebrate Earth Day 2019. We worked together with Mapala Silva, BPDAS Kahayan, BPLHK, BKSDA, Repeat Tumbang Nusa, Green School Bali and several schools in Palangka Raya to plant 500 Balangeran trees in a burned area in Repeat Tumbang Nusa. The area we targeted consisted of 2,500 hectares, which experienced burning between 1997 and 2018 - resulting in massive habitat loss. Due to volunteer work since 2015, 320 hectares have been replanted with various types of trees, although this is only the beginning, with 87% of the damage still to be repaired.
We also had a trip to BPDAS tree nursery, Haze Shelter tour and idea sharing with local organizations engaged in the conservation of the environment. There were 54 participants who joined this event. The schools involved in this activity were St Petrus Catholic Middle School, SMAN 5 Palangka Raya, SMAN 3 Palangka Raya, and Man Model Palangka Raya and the Bali Green School international school.
The program was a great success. Our aim was to not only help restore the deforested area but to raise the awareness of young people about the devastating effects of forest burning. We were also fortunate to be joined by fellow pupils from international schools, to help build connections amongst new friends.
We sincerely hope this movement will raise our awareness of protecting the environment in which we live.