Aware of the importance of forests as a water catchment area, encouraged the community in Yehembang Kauh to carry out reforestation at some crucial points, such as river banks and Hutan Belajar areas. Local communities manage this planting area to cultivate various Jembrana endemic plants. IDEP Foundation has supported and accompanied local communities intensively since 2012.
The planting that lasts coincides with the International Day of Forest is also a public step to anticipate the threat of disasters in the rainy season: floods. Although this seasonal disaster is usually accepted, the flash floods in early 2020 have given important warnings that worse impacts could occur.
At that time, the water overflowed from the river and damaged several roads. Water entered the community’s houses, causing several places to be damaged. “At that time, the weather was indeed very extreme, the flood could get home, the streets also arranged,” said Wayan Restu, a villager from Yehembah Kauh.
Flash floods cut off some access which destroyed the road around the riverbank. Moreover, the flood has cut off the water channel pipes, making villagers have difficulty accessing clean water. For days, some villagers are isolated and lack access to clean water.
Disaster Mitigation Through Tree Planting
The difficulties that occurred at that time had made the Yehembah Kauh community realize the importance of maintaining the area of rivers and forests. “So after the flash flood, we were from Destana [Disaster Resilience Village] with IDEP negotiating so that the discovery of this disaster did not occur again. Then we planned on the river banks,” said Wayan Restu, who manages Hutan Belajar.
Reforestation is done every year and increasingly expands the planting point. The community also actively cultivates several endemic plants because their functions are important for maintaining forest areas. “These plants mostly have their functions as water-absorbent because their age is also quite long,” said Restu. This 41-year-old man also added a process for cultivating endemic plants. “For the endemic plants that we are planted here. We discover the seeds in the forest, put them in a nursery, then plant them together here.”
Endemic plants such as kwanitan, nutmeg, black bamboo, and kruing will also be planted in the Hutan Belajar. “Some endemic plants chosen are mostly able to help provide groundwater reserves in Bali,” said Dewa Wira from IDEP Foundation.
In addition to preventing disasters, tree planting is also an effort to introduce people to Balinese endemic plants. “Planting is very important as an introduction, and they can learn here, in the Hutan Belajar. They had a sense of ownership when they planted by themselves, and they also could love the plant,” hope Restu.
Hutan Belajar has been pursued as a platform to learn about the forest, this time visited by students from various elementary schools in Jembrana. The schools that participated are SDN 2 Leateng, SDN 1 Leateng, SDN 3 Mendoyo Dauh Tukad, SDN 2 Mendoyo Dangin Tukad, and SDN 3 Yeh Embang. “With students, we will learn about water preservation in Bali, which can be done through tree planting,” explained Dewa Wira.
Plant and Explore Hutan Belajar
When students enter Hutan Belajar, they are welcomed with various games before planting, and students are led to the specified locations. While planting, students are also given an understanding of the functions and characteristics of the seeds they planted. In addition, to grow a sense of mutual ownership, every plant they plant is given tags according to what students want.
Visiting the forest and planting seedlings had a good response from students, especially they can find out plant functions while playing. “It’s exciting to plant with friends. The forest also has a cool temperature and fresh air,” said Amira students from SDN 2 Mendoyo Dangin Tukad.
From this planting process, Amira also knows more about the function of the forest itself, especially as a water catchment area. This function was closely related to Amira’s experience of having a lack of water difficulties. “If the tree runs out, there might be no water, a lot of pollution too,” Amira added.
Aside from being a water-absorbent and disaster prevention, planting also has cultural functions. There are seven types of seeds planted throughout Hutan Belajar, and six of them are plants often used for ceremonies. The selection of these diverse plants is pursued so that Hutan Belajar correctly provides good benefits for nature and the local community. “Our hope later this forest can become a Bumi Banten so that we can fulfill the needs through Hutan Belajar,” said Sayu Komang from Basebali.
The variety of Hutan Belajar functions certainly gets a good response from the local community, so they also manage Hutan Belajar as a collective land. “Hutan Belajar is also part of us as forest farmers with basic goals are preserving forests,” said Loka Putra as Chair of the Forest Farmer Group (KTH) Giri Amertha.
In this planting, KTH is also involved and determines the planting points so that plants can grow properly. In addition, there are various groups present, such as the Biogas Lestari group, the West Bali UPTD KPH, Destana (Tangguh Disaster Village), and the government. They are not only present but also planted, treated, and preserved in Hutan Belajar and surrounding areas. “We are here with each other to manage Hutan Belajar because this becomes a hope for our nature, our village, and everything we expect will be in the future,” explained Restu, who from the beginning focused on a nursery in Hutan Belajar. (Gd)