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Jakarta Post

Eco-warriors awarded for efforts to preserve Indonesia's biodiversity

  • A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil
    A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, November 28, 2020   /   08:59 am
Eco-warriors awarded for efforts to preserve Indonesia's biodiversity The 2020 Kehati Awards mark the ninth installment of the event since its inception in 2000. (Shutterstock/Chinnapong)

The Indonesian Biodiversity Conservation Trust Fund (Kehati) Foundation bestowed awards to five individuals and a private company on Friday for their significant contributions in protecting the country's biodiversity through their actions and activism.

The namesake awards have six categories: Prakarsa Kehati for individuals or NGOs, Pamong Kehati for government officials, Inovasi Kehati for small businesses, Cipta Kehati for scientists or academics, Citra Kehati for journalists or artists and Tunas Kehati for young activists.

The foundation opened the registration for the nominees from December last year until March 31. Up to 153 names were registered and the panel of judges selected the six winners from 49 names who passed the initial administrative screenings.

This year, the Prakarsa Kehati award was bestowed to Rubama M, an activist from Aceh who was recognized for her efforts in advocating for forest and habitat protections in the Leuser Ecosystem Area.

Since July 2018, she has organized community patrols with a team of women rangers in Damaran Baru village, Bener Meriah regency, to spearhead the conservation efforts.

The winner of the Pamong Kehati award was Jarot Winarno, who has served as regent of Sintang in West Kalimantan since 2015. He was awarded for promoting sustainability through the Sintang Sustainable Action Plan (RAD-SL) in a regulation he had issued.

Read also: Collaborative action for a 'forest positive' future

The regent is known for his efforts in protecting up to 865,000 hectares of forest cover in Sintang through his policies, including regental regulations on forest opening and sustainable palm oil management, while demanding concession owners to follow proper protocols and regulations on sustainable palm oil.

As for the Inovasi Kehati Award, the recipient was PT Karya Dua Anyam, or Du'Anyam, a fashion company established in 2014 in East Flores, East Nusa Tenggara. It focuses on empowering the local economy of women by producing and marketing weaved crafts made from leaves of waru and lontar palm trees.

The company produces up to 3,000 products per month, using natural fibers that are harvested using sustainable practices.

Bali-based researcher Pande Ketut Diah Kencana from Udayana University won the Cipta Kehati Award.

Diah's research focuses on the conservation of local varieties of bamboo endemic to Bali, particularly tabah bamboo. She has also worked with locals since 2003 for tabah bamboo breeding and shared her knowledge with over 800 farmers in Tabanan and Gianyar regencies.

Meanwhile, the recipient of the Citra Kehati award was Samsudin, an elementary school teacher-turned storyteller from West Java.

Since 2016, Samsudin had served as an itinerant storyteller, going around on foot and on bicycle across the country's 13 provinces to tell stories to children on the conservation of endangered species using wayang (shadow puppets) made of cardboard.

The other winner on the list, Margaretha Mala, a teenager from Menua Sadap village in Kapuas Hulu regency, West Kalimantan, received the Tunas Kehati Award for initiating a movement involving local women to preserve the production of Dayak tenun (hand-woven fabric)

Read also: Scientists call for integrated One Health approach to climate, disease mitigation

Her group also cultivated a 3-hectare plantation using an ethnobotanical approach starting in 2018, planting more than 160 species of plants with some that function as natural dyes. 

Kehati Foundation executive director Riki Frindos said the awards tried to convey that biodiversity conservation was not just the responsibility of activists, nonprofits and academics, but of everyone regardless of their background.

“We have identified every sector and profession that can inspire us. With the pamong category for civil servants, for instance, we found that many civil servants go beyond their responsibility [to preserve the environment],” Riki said.

Meanwhile, Kehati Foundation founder Emil Salim congratulated the six winners, acknowledging that they had worked tirelessly for preserving biodiversity in their respective areas.

He further urged other Indonesians to follow the steps of the Kehati awardees, not necessarily for personal achievements but to protect Indonesia’s biodiversity.

The 2020 Kehati Awards mark the ninth installment of the event since its inception in 2000.