Dharma Pinem, sitting relaxed enjoying a cup of coffee, when we met him in Timbang Lawan Village, Langkat Regency, North Sumatra.
This man is special. Since 2015, together with some of his friends he has founded the Bahorok Hijau Community. The idea started with the unrest of the community, who planted oil palm but did not make a profit.
“When you look at its history, Langkat Regency during the Dutch era only planted cocoa, vanilla and tobacco. After independence planted rice. Over time, the current price for palm oil is not profitable,” said the man whose hair was starting to turn gray.
The 2013 flash floods, the beginning of the problem. The community’s paddy fields became unproductive, because the irrigation damaged by the disaster has not been repaired, even now. This condition made them try their luck growing oil palm.
What’s more, at that time there was a lot of seed assistance provided by the government and the price of the fruit could also be relied upon.
“I don’t know the name of the program. Now just look, the trees are not maintained,” he explained, early December 2022.
According to Dharma, managing oil palm trees requires a lot of capital and intensive care. Meanwhile, farmers’ income does not match expenses. In addition, oil palm is not environmentally friendly, because the land that has been planted with this type must be cultivated again so that it is loose. Palm oil also cannot be used as a fortress to hold back water in the event of a flood.
These conditions prompted Dharma to form the Green Bahorok Community. Changes in people’s perspectives and the importance of protecting the environment are the main reasons for forming communities. Moreover, Weigh Opponents are near the Gunung Leuser National Park (TNGL).
Dharma and his community took the initiative to plant fruit trees around the forest to the GLNP border. There are various types, there are durian, jengkol, mangosteen, petai, mango, and duku. They collectively buy the seeds and are committed to caring for them.
“After three months, new seeds can be planted. Regarding the results, it will be divided equally or sold,” he explained.
The fruit of the plant is also given to wild animals such as monkeys, orangutans, squirrels, birds and civets. Not just for society.
“Wildlife is an environmental link that must be considered. The forest is now starting to decrease, that’s why we provide a source of food so that they are comfortable in their habitat.”
This community also invites farmers who still grow oil palm to switch to fruit trees. They help with seedlings and their care. The farmers who were invited, only prepared the land without the need to spend capital.
“The fruit belongs to the farmer, may be sold. Our message is that if a wild animal eats fruit, don’t kill it, just let it be,” said Dharma.
The corona pandemic that hit, made Dharma and her community look for ways to keep the community’s economy running. They open tourist village businesses such as lodging, villa rentals, and tents for visitors who want to camp.
“Since the pandemic, many residents have lacked income, so we think that self -funding is no longer possible . We decided to seek funding for the community program to continue,” he explained.
Of the tourism village income, ten percent is allocated to the community treasury. The Bahorok community also works closely with the Nuraga Bumi Institute, an environmental and education community for women and children, which is also in Langkat.
Every child studying at Nuraga Bumi Institute does not need to pay tuition fees, they are only required to provide tree seeds and fruit every month. They can plant directly in the forest, together with the Green Bahorok Community.
The young move
Ramadhani, a Timbang Lawan youth who has been active in the Bahorok Hijau Community since 2018, is proud to be able to preserve the environment.
“There is no salary system, only pocket money. Usually given per working day. The children here are also invited by their parents to plant trees,” he explained.
Everyone has a role in planting. Some clear the land, some make holes, some cut bamboo or wood, and some monitor tree growth.
“One land, the number can be 100-500 trees. It depends on the condition of the area.”
Currently, the total area planted with trees is 215 hectares, spread over 15 points.
Selvi, another young member of the community, said she was happy to join. He started to care about the environment and no longer asked his parents for money because he was paid for planting and harvesting.
“I was taught how to measure the diameter of a tree with a tool, along with its height and width. Like learning basic conservation,” he said.
Nurul Nayla Azmi, founder of the Nuraga Bumi Institute, hopes that more community groups will take the initiative to protect the environment. Communities are an important wall to protect forest areas because they live and live there.
“Their sources of livelihood, such as water and air, are obtained directly from the forest. They have local wisdom in protecting the environment,” he said.
Our ancestors also taught us to live in harmony with nature and tolerance for wild animals.
“We need to emphasize this value so that efforts to protect the environment can be carried out,” he explained.
Palbert Tunip, Head of Region 3 BBTNGL, said he was very pleased with the Bahorok Hijau Community. This group indirectly carries out conservation works such as clearing the GLNP boundaries, planting trees in the area and outside the GLNP, and is involved in handling human-wildlife conflicts.
“We often collaborate with them. Overall , the community whose chairman is Dharma Pinem has helped us a lot,” he concluded.