To raise awareness on forest preservation and protection, IDEP invited youth groups in Yehembang Kauh village to learn about local biodiversity and the ecosystem in Bali West Forest on May 17-19, 2021. As members of the local community that lives in the buffer zone, understanding the importance of forest role upholds a prominent role particularly for forest protection and preservation. The learning session was held in Hutan Belajar (Edu-forest), a dedicated area of the forest for educational purposes. The Hutan Belajar itself was inaugurated in March 2021.
The activity entitled Edu-forest Study Camping is designed for the local community members to have a deeper understanding of the importance of forest sustainability. “The goal of this activity is to introduce Hutan Belajar as a learning space for students and youth in Yehembang Kauh village,” said Putu Bawa as an organizer from IDEP.
The participants invited to this camping were students and the youth communities from the village. They come from five elementary schools, one junior high school, and 11 youth communities. During the 3-days event, they learn to understand the forest with several activities such as tracking, games, and discussions. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they were divided into several sections which were then held on different days. They were also strictly monitored to follow the guideline of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Trekking in Hutan Belajar
This event was officially opened by the Village Head of Yehembang Kauh. After the opening ceremony, the participants were guided by the nature lover’s student club (Mapala) from Udayana University to trekking the Hutan Belajar. Prior to the event, the Mapala team had vegetation research and identification. They use the research result as the materials to be shared with the participants.
As a guide, the Mapala team explained the name, characters, and function of all the endemic plants in Hutan Belajar. The participants were actively taking notes and asking about everything that they didn’t know about the forest. “Through forest trekking activity, participants were invited to learn about endemic flora and fauna in West Bali Forest and what happens when this forest is destroyed,” said Wahyu as Edu-forest Study Camping organizer.
Through binoculars, the participants also learn to identify Bali endemic birds, particularly the ones that are important for the forest. The Mapala team described Kwanitan (endemic plant) as a home for endemic birds in Jembrana (West Bali Forest). Kwanitan and other trees are also important for the forest and the community around as disaster prevention such as landslides and flash floods. That information brings out the participant’s curiosity about how to save this forest.
During the trekking session, they got an opportunity to visit the nursery houses established to preserve Bali Forest endemic plants. The nursery house is also part of a learning space in Hutan Belajar. It was designed to raise understanding and awareness towards conservation efforts through plant breeding for endemic or endangered species such as Kwanitan, Candlenut, Pala Bali, and Kelerek.
Playing and Learning in Forest
After trekking, the participants were asked about what they managed to identify or found during trekking through the Snakes and Ladders game. The game is designed to stimulate student’s curiosity and improve their knowledge about the importance of forest conservation and disaster risk reduction. Every step in this game was connected to the information about the functions and activities in the forest. For example, “ladder” represents conservation efforts like reforestation, while “snakes” represent deforestation and forest degradation.
There were three types of the Snakes and Ladders game that the participants were invited to play consecutively. After finishing the first type, they were invited to try another type as each of them had specific information. The more they play the more information they get. Every roll of the dice brought them messages about how to protect our forest and nature.
Forest and It’s Future through the Youth Eyes
Besides learning through playing games and trekking, the youth communities in the village were also invited to discuss the sustainability of Hutan Belajar. Yet most of them have known general information about the forest in their environment before, the information on the forest role and its biodiversity potentials, such as endemic flora and fauna, was quite surprising for them. “I feel happy to know that the forest apparently has many things I haven’t found yet before. With this Hutan Belajar, I have learned,” said Cista, a youth from Bhuana Sentana youth community.
Even though the Hutan Belajar was just inaugurated, it has provided a new model for forest management by the local community and all the stakeholders. It has also stimulated public collaboration through the participation of various elements in the village to protect the forest. “Hutan Belajar makes us aware about how to maintain our forest wisely, without reducing its benefit (for the local community),” said a representative from the Forest Management Unit Center of West Bali that is working under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
Hutan Belajar is one of IDEP efforts to support community resilience in Yehembang Kauh village. It started from establishing a community-based disaster management group (Destana) in 2020 and then continued to the development of the disaster-risk map. Based on the map, the forest is a crucial point to reduce the disaster risk of the village. The idea of Hutan Belajar then emerged to provide a model of forest management that will benefit the environment and the community.
The maintenance of Hutan Belajar will be managed by Destana in collaboration with all the stakeholders, including the local community, the government, and the youth. “Hutan Belajar will be managed by Destana as a mitigation effort as if forest protected, water sources will also be maintained,” said Putu Bawa who has been working on this forest conservation with Base Bali community and IDEP. (Gd)