Dreams of Reforestation in South Malang

Thousands of soursop plants look beautiful in the green house of the "Maju Mapan" Forest Farmers Group (locally abbreviated as, KTH) in Tambakrejo Village, Sumbermanjing Wetan District, Malang Regency, East Java. It is located in the Social Forestry Enterprise Group (locally abbreviated as KUPS) of Block 27, covering a half a hectare area and has become the mode nursery for the other groups.

"There are about 30,000 seeds of Evergreen tree; 20,000 seeds of soursop; and 10,000 seeds of avocado;" said Mochammad Firman, Chairperson of Maju Mapan Forest Farmers Group, Sunday [1/19/2020].

The farmers group have managed the nursery to reforest the bare land which is supposed to be the production forest. For reforestation in Sendaki Protected Forest area, the group is still waiting for the social forestry permit by the authority.

Sugianto, a member of the forest farmers group, was organising and grouping the soursop seeds according to their height and age. The seeds were donated by the Directorate General of Watershed and Protected Forests, under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

"In the nursery, the soursop seeds takes 4 to 5 months to be ready for planting in the forest. Evergreen tree will only be able to be moved out of the nursery in about 4 months, "he said.

Sugianto added that, the activity was moved by the public concerns about the condition of the forests that were cut down after the reform era in 1998. In fact, within the last two years, the condition of the protected forests in Sendiki continues to deforest.

Sugianto patiently and diligently invited the other villagers, while providing understanding and awareness on the importance of forest conservation. He independently searched for the fruit tree seedlings and other tree stands to plant. He tried to plant seeds such as petai, jackfruit and other fruit plants from outside the village and at the markets.

"At first the forest was bare and I dream to reforest it like how it used to be. Now, there are 1100 members of Maju Mapan Forest Farmers Group, "he explained.

Firman added, if all seeds were planted in deforested areas, the target to increase forest cover, which permit has been granted to the community, would be fulfilled.

"I hope our dream comes true," he said.

Illegal Logging

Chairperson of Profauna Indonesia, Rosek Nursahid said, Profauna's active involvement in southern Malang was moved by the community reports and team findings on the illegal logging in Sendiki Protected Forest.

The deforested areas cause various threats like drought and loss of water springs. The threat of environmental damage has been proven, there was a flash flood in the villages around the protected forest, during the 2018 rainy season in December.

"We see this as neglection, the facts show that there is massive forest encroachment, looting and destruction, and it is rampant. This shows that the, related authorities, the government or the State Forest  Company, didn't take any actions, "said Nursahid, who urges the government to review the national forest management policy.

In addition to community engagement, Nursahid said that social forestry is one way to ensure that forests are sustainable and protected. Close assistance and education should be given in the public engagement, so that the public understand how to save the environment.

Maju Mapan group has partnered with Profauna Indonesia. Profauna Indonesia and Petungsewu Adventure in their early stage assistance, have provided seedlings of plant stands to the farmers to be managed and planted in areas that need to be restored.

"The seeds have been planted in the Tanggulasi Hill," he said.

It is expected that in February 2020, the Social Forestry Decree proposed by Maju Mapan will be approved by the government, so that the strategic steps to save the forest can be implemented immediately. Communities must be given the trust to do so, including those who were involved in destroying or logging the forest.

"Awareness and education are the keys to conserving forests and the environment. The seeds are planted as a source of income for the forest farmers in the future," Nursahid explained.

The dream of saving the forest and restoring its original function will continue to be carried out by Firman, Sugianto, and other forest farmers. "Right now, it is difficult for us to get water because there is no water spring. By planting the trees, we hope that in the future our children can enjoy the benefits of a protected and sustainable forest, "said Sugianto.

© 2003 - ProFauna Indonesia

ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats