As one of the most diverse countries in the world, Indonesia has been struggling to reforest landscapes and save biodiversity. With the deforestation rate shown in the graphic below, Indonesia has been considered contributing to global warming. In 2009, the country has committed to reduce emission up to 26-41% by 2020.
To address that commitment, the Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia has launched Gerakan Menanam 1 Milyar Pohon (One Billion Indonesian Trees). One interesting program is tree plantings by the bride-and groom-to-be. Many regions/ municipalities in Indonesia (the map below) have made the program compulsory, and work together with other local institutions (e.g. local forestry department and office of religious affairs), although it is not a national mandate.
From one region to another, the method is varied for the number of seedlings bride and groom have to plant, the planting area, and the species that should be planted. The bride and groom obtain a tree certificate that will be used as a proof of the planting for authorities. They have to look after the trees, or penalties apply. Kendal regency, one of the regions which implemented this policy since 2012, was awarded as Green City by the Environmental Online (ENO) from Finland, and Jambi City had a chance to present the program at one of the United Nations (UN) Meetings: UNECA.
How could this program help biodiversity? Studies have found that planting is beneficial for biodiversity and at least two benefits from tree planting can be gained. First, vegetation is habitat for animals and vegetation itself is also biodiversity. The habitat provides shelter, space, food, and water for the biodiversity to live (details here and here). Second, beside the controversy of tree planting, but the key concept of this unique policy is to combat climate change from CO2 emission as mentioned in this document. A single tree can absorb 28 tons of CO2/year, in the simple words: more trees planted more CO2 absorbed and less it emitted. Climate change is one of the main direct drivers of biodiversity loss. The climate change impacts on geographic range shrinkage or even forest dieback. Visualization of the connection of those components is described in the diagram below.
Although there is debate if such program can effectively address the issue of climate change, but the bottomline is that such program can raise awareness of the people on the role of trees and how they can contribute. As with other conservation programs (such as for the Javan Gibbon and Langur), education programs are key to achieving successful outcomes, as is actively engaging people saving the environment. It is not only planting trees for them, but the timing of the planting is closely related with important life events for them, thus it raises their sense of belonging to the trees.
Loehle, C. 2000. Forest ecotone response to climate change: sensitivity to temperature response functional forms. Can. J. For. Res.,30: 1632–1645
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Biodiversity Synthesis. World Resources Institute: Washington, DC
Regent of Kendal. 2012. Peraturan Daerah Kabupaten Kendal Nomor 3 Tahun 2012 Tentang Penanaman Pohon Bagi Calon Pengantin dan Ibu Melahirkan di Kabupaten Kendal (Regional Regulation of Kendal Regency Nomor 3 Year 2012 on Tree Planting for Bride-and-Groom-to-be and Mother in Kendal). Regent of Kendal
Renwick, A.R., Robinson, C.J., Martin, T.G., May, T., Polglase, P.,Possingham, H.P., Carwardine, J. 2014. Biodiverse Planting for Carbon and Biodiversity on Indigenous Land. Plos One: Volume 9, Issue 3, e91281
Supriatna, J., Tilson, R.L., Gurmaya, K.J., Manansang, J., Wardojo, W., Sriyanto, A., Teare, A., Castle, K., and Seal US (eds.).1994. Javan Gibbon and Javan Langur: Population and Habitat Viability Analysis Report, IUCN/ SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG). Apple Valley: Minnesota, 11 2pp