The Jakarta Post
Aventinus Sadip has turned critical land into a small verdant forest in Paku Rua hamlet, Golo Manting village, Sano Nggoang district, West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), through his independent replanting efforts for over a
Thousands of trees composed of more than a dozen species from Manggarai and external regions grown since 2000 are now thriving on four hectares of land stretching out behind his hamlet home, with three water springs amid the dense foliage.
The 51-year-old green activist said he had been prompted by the policy of the West Manggarai regency administration to ban the felling of forest trees for housing, particularly in the protected forest zone of Mbeliling, and appealed for the local community to plant saplings around their homes and on unproductive land to help ease global warming.
“In 2001, the Komodo Indonesia Lestari Foundation [Yakines] challenged me and the group I had motivated to launch a green movement by growing local and non-local trees,” he told The Jakarta Post at his home in Paku Rua recently. Today, his estate is packed with 6,000 trees, with over 20,000 seedlings already sold to people across the regency.
“I’ve been cultivating various seedlings and planting the trees myself without the aid of helpers. I’ve done everything out of an awareness of the global warming issue, which is now being widely dealt with,” noted Aventinus, whose land used to be overgrown with weeds and teeming with buffalos. He was even ridiculed when he initiated a greening drive to conserve his neighborhood environment.
With his eventual success, the people in Paku Rua started to admire his lush vegetation and buy his seedlings to join in similar activities. “I built my house with the income I made from the sale of forest products. I feel happy and proud of my fruitful endeavors, which have enabled me to meet the needs of my family including my children’s schooling costs,” he pointed out.
He said the fact that some of the trees he had replanted were species that were already overexploited and almost extinct made him even more enthusiastic. “I’m also proud to be able to speak about environment conservation and the greening movement with people around the Mbeliling zone, at the Yakines forums, the Indonesian Bird Institute and the Indonesian Wild Bird Conservation Association.”
According to the vocational high school graduate, global warming poses a greater threat than world terrorism, because serious warming will have a fatal effect on all living beings. One of the ways to reduce global warming is to grow as many plants as possible in protected forests and on land owned by private communities.
When Aventinus was a Golo Manting village staff member, he joined a replanting campaign launched by the local Forestry Office. “In 2002, I joined the Mbeliling Traditional Community Alliance (AMAL). In 2006, I guided domestic and foreign guests visiting the Mbeliling forest to watch Ratu Flores, a beautiful bird species in the zone. I headed the Penggawa Riang Puar, a forest ranger unit, and now I lead an independent nature conservation group, MAMA, in Mbeliling,” he added.
“I enjoy the fresh air and melodious sounds of songbirds in the Mbeliling forest. I like walking from Paku Rua to Labuan Bajo, the West Manggarai capital, through this protected forest. I also teach my children how to grow local trees and cultivate their seedlings,” revealed Aventinus.
He said that in 2008 he had participated in the Kalpataru environmental conservation contest but the survey team from the NTT provincial administration did not inspect his area due to the poor access to Paku Rua, so they had no idea of the small forest he had developed. In 2010, he joined the same competition, achieving no result for the same reason, and in 2011, one of his peers from Macang Pacar district won the contest.
In 2012, luck still wasn’t on his side. “I’m very disappointed about the surveyors from West Manggarai regency and NTT not visiting my location so far. But even without any government appreciation, I’m still eager to motivate local people and cultivate local trees,” he remarked. The Indonesian Bird Institute has entered his name for the Kalpataru 2013, which he hopes will send its team to observe his greening activities.
Aventinus started growing sandalwood as a prized commodity of NTT in 2003 with a hundred trees at the first stage, 30 of which are now producing fruit. He has sold around a thousand sandalwood seedlings to district communities in West Manggarai so far. Apart from local and regional trees, he has also planted estate crops, such as cacao and vanilla, although his hamlet seems more suited to perennial trees.