IDEP Foundation

Hutan Belajar: Being Harmonious Through Education and Conservation

Begins with concern over the land-use change in West Bali Forest, IDEP Foundation and Basebali created the Hutan Belajar program to save the forest through conservation and education. After more than nine years, both local organizations were fighting for forest conservation in the West of Bali. It started from the Hutan Sekolah program which had a positive response from the local community, then continued in a bigger program called Hutan Belajar.

A girl planted one of the endemic Black Bamboo in Hutan Belajar area (Photo: Gusti Diah)

The presence of Hutan Belajar isn’t only an education platform for the local community, but for reflecting the harmonious concept between environment, social, economy, and culture. Especially about forest conservation that is influential for community’s lives, even local or global too.

In the process, Hutan Belajar slowly start get the acceptance from various elements of community, such as Desa Tangguh Bencana (Destana), Kelompok Tani Hutan (KTH), dan Mahasiswa Pecinta Alam (Mapala) Udayana University. Not only that, there is support from the government, Unit Pelaksana Teknis Daerah Kesatuan Pengelolaan Hutan UPTD KPH) Bali Barat, because forest become habitat of endemic flora and fauna.

Joint Efforts to Preserving the Forest

The desire to preserve Forest in Jembrana came from many elements of communities, including Mapala Wanaprastha Dharma Udayana University. These student college groups decided to move after seeing news in Mongabay that talked about West Bali Forest problems. “We directly contact the author, then come here [Jembrana] to see the condition of the forest,” said Syifa.

Mapala WD Unud inaugurate Hutan Belajar (photo: Wira Utama)

Moreover, This college student is doing research about vegetation analysis in West Bali Forest that starts on March 6, 2021. Syifa as a coordinator in the Conservation Division acknowledged the importance of Hutan Belajar and support the continuity of the program. Because she thinks that Hutan Belajar could unite a variety of communities, like KTH, local community, even KPH.

Support also comes from KTH that decided to join in Hutan Belajar program. “We hope that later, Hutan Belajar could be the spearhead of village income and environment preservation,” said Wayan Kastawa while distributing seedlings to other farmers.

Kastawa explained that planting seedlings existed since two years ago and got a good response from the rural community. It means that the community in Yehembang Kauh village realizes the importance of forest preservation.

Hutan Belajar becomes a new hope for the community around. Then, this support marked with the inauguration of Hutan Belajar on Saturday, March 20, 2021, which also coincides with Tumpek Wariga—the traditional day of the plant.

The Harmonious in Hutan Belajar Inauguration

The inauguration of Hutan Belajar become an impressive moment, because not just ceremonial, but creating a harmonious relation between sekala (seen) and niskala (unseen). “In niskala, we doing a religious ritual [based on Balinese belief], then in sekala, we will do tree planting,” Putu Bawa said, as a representative of Basebali.

Harmonious between tradition and conservation effort in Hutan Belajar inauguration (photo: Wira Utama)

This tree planting that adjectsen to the International Forest Day was dominated by Jembrana endemic plants and plants for water conservation. Hutan Belajar with four hectares area will be planted with Kwanitan, Pala Bali, Durian, Yellow Bamboo, Vetiver, Ancak, Neem, Coconut, Bamboo Tali, and Pentung Hitam, Chrysolite, and Majegau. Then, a religious ritual was held with a ceremony tradition called Ngatagin Pohon. This ritual guided by Pemangku and Bendesa Adat from Yehembang Kauh, Kedisan, Yeh Buah, and Munduk Anggrek. Both activities were held simultaneously with following health protocol to cut off the spread of the Covid-19.

Implementing health protocols during the event (photo: Gusti Diah)

Putu Bawa added his hopes to this program that will produce mutual commitment between government, village, Baseball, IDEP Foundation, KTH, and community around the forest to guard the forest. To make a harmonious relation between ecology and economy through conservation.

Endemic Plants Preservation

One of the conservation efforts through Hutan Belajar is endemic flora and fauna preservation. Therefore, in reforestation activity, this program prioritizes the breeding of endemic plants. “Nursery places that we made are devoted to endemic plants too,” said Sayu Komang from IDEP Foundation.

The endemic plants that include in Hutan Belajar are Kwanitan, Majegau, and Black Bamboo. These plants will become forage plants for other endemic species, such as Siung or Celepuk Bali. The linkages between those endemic species show that Hutan Belajar is trying to protect our biodiversity wealth in West Bali Forest. Considering the importance of forest biodiversity to prevent ecological disasters, such as floods, landslides, and climate crises. (Gd)