‘Thirty years ago, local farmers were having a very hard season with far too little rain. Most unusually for this area, people were getting hungry. So some of them went into the protected forest, to cut down trees to be sold for timber, and to clear new land for gardens.’ Or so the story goes…
These cleared areas, were 1 or 2 hectares in size, and they’re scattered, near the edges of the ‘protected’ forest. Although trees have now had many years to regenerate, very few have been able to survive the aggressive vines that smother most tree seedlings, so, to this day, these damaged areas are still dominated by the vines, with just a few stunted trees surviving.
In our ongoing effort to bring back more native food, for rainforest birds and animals, I’m currently overseeing a project to plant, and then maintain, 6,000, native, fruiting trees in damaged parts of the protected rainforest, on Mt Batukaru.
In late 2009, the Plant a Tree Today (PATT) Foundation sourced funding from Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) and passed it on, through a friend, who runs the Bali International Consulting Group (BICG). Working with the leader of the local Adat, we designed the project, and gained permission to start replanting native trees, inside the protected, Mt Batukaru rainforest.
In total, 6,000 native trees have been very densely planted, over an area of approximately 6 hectares. We hope the close spacings will quickly re-establish a closed canopy, which will discourage regrowth of the vines. Two local men, have been employed to maintain the young trees, mainly to protect them from the vines, over the next 12months.
The 6,000 trees, some fast, and some slow growing, were selected specifically to provide abundant food for native birds and animals. 5,000 seedlings were planted near the road through the forest, to an important local temple (Pura Jatiluweh), while 1,000, were planted several ridges to the East, near Bonkalanyar Village. This village has yet to benefit from any development, and one consequence is, that people are still exploiting the forest, taking birds, orchids, animals and timber. We took these first, 1,000 trees to Bonkalanyar to begin a process, whereby locals start to receive benefits from protecting the forest, instead of exploiting it.