Hundreds of years of mineral mining activities in the Bangka Belitung Archipelago Province, still leaves thousands of hectares of critical land. Efforts have been made to plant, namely acacia, sea sengon cypress, cashew, rubber, oranges, avocados, to hybrid coconuts. However, not all of them are able to restore ecosystems, socio-cultural values, and the forest economy to their original state.
Research Oktavia et al.  stated that the cultivation of acacia [ A. mangium ] and cashew nut [ A. occidentale ] in several locations in Belitung did not show high diversity. Only dominated by this type, even difficult to find grass on the ground.
Most recently, the broom plant [ Baeckea frutescens L.], which thrives in Bangka Belitung, has become a new hope for post-mining land recovery. At the same time, providing an alternative economic community through the development of essential oils.
“The time has come for the people of Bangka Belitung to not only rely on tin, to change their profession to become essential oil farmers,” said Lt. Gen. Retired Doni Monardo, Main Commissioner of MIND ID, when visiting the field of brooms in Air Batu Buding Village, Belitung Regency, Friday [27/01/2023] ago.
This commitment is embodied in the “Development of Potential Essential Oils” Collaboration CSR Group Mining Industry Indonesia [MIND ID] Program, an Indonesian Mining Industry Holding BUMN consisting of PT. ANTAM Tbk., PT. Bukit Asam Tbk., PT. Freeport Indonesia, PT. Inalum [Persero], PT. Timah Tbk., and PT. Vale Indonesia.
“Whatever the type, one day minerals will run out, including tin. Don’t let the community get nothing from mining activities, which are almost 100 percent causing injuries to the earth’s crust,” continued Doni, recipient of an honorary doctorate ( doctor honoris causa ) from IPB University, thanks to his commitment to environmental issues.
The people of Bangka Belitung generally do not know that the broom plant can be refined into high-priced essential oils. Doni estimates that 1 ton of broom tree can produce around 10 liters of essential oil, with a price per liter of around IDR 300,000.
“This means that there is a potential income of three million rupiah for 1 ton of raw material. However, the exact price is still under review. For the community, if we focus on it, the value can be higher than mining tin,” he explained.
Chairperson of the Indonesian Essential Oils Council, Irdika Mansur, said broom farmers in Bangka Belitung need not worry.
“Because, there are entrepreneurs who are ready to accommodate or buy,” he said.
Acting [PJ] Governor of the Bangka Belitung Islands, Ridwan Djamaluddin encourages research and community assistance for essential oil processing. Cultivation will be focused on 123,000 hectares of critical land in Bangka Belitung.
“We will form a management unit, this assistance must be put to good use. We will also involve the younger generation to take advantage of this great opportunity,” he continued.
For information, the essential oil development assistance package consists of; distillation machine [distillation] with a capacity of one ton, construction of installations, construction of distillation machine sites, storage warehouses, motor carts, working capital to training for the community. Everything will be distributed to six districts and one municipality in the Bangka Belitung Islands Province.
Medicinal potential and essential oils
Outside Bangka Belitung, the broom plant is called jungrahab, the tip of the roof [Kalimantan], or si gamei-gamei [Minangkabau]. This woody shrub with a height of 4-6 meters belongs to the Myrtaceae [pelawan, kernuduk, etc.] tribe, which is widespread in Southeast Asia to Australia [Bean, 1997].
“Sapu-sapu is very suitable for post-mining land revegetation, growing from the lowlands to the hills. Stems and strong branches and small leaves like needles are all forms of adaptation to extreme land, poor in nutrients and low [acidic] pH,” said Tri Lestari, researcher and lecturer in Agrotechnology at the University of Bangka Belitung.
In the research by Ito et al. , brooms are commonly used by the community as a traditional medicine for influenza, malaria, fever, headaches, stomach aches, and dysentery. In fact, the 12 compounds contained are capable of being antibacterial, even killing 50 percent of [breast, pancreatic, and lung] cancer cells.
“However, to make it into a mass-produced drug, it must go through a long process because it has to go through various tests such as toxicity and clinical trials,” said Khoirun Nisa, a researcher, quoted from the official website of BRIN [National Research and Innovation Agency ] .
How about essential oils? According to Tri Lestari, who has been researching the potential of essential oils in a number of local Bangka Belitung plants, the parts of the broom plant taken for essential oils are usually the fresh leaves.
“Distilled and then the results are separated from distilled water to see the yield,” he said.
For cultivation, the harvest time is long because of the process from seed to seed. It took one year, for the seeds to develop perfectly.
“It’s better to look for faster cultivation techniques, for example tissue culture. The seeds that have been transferred to the field are given balanced organic and inorganic fertilizers, because what you want to harvest are fresh leaves, such as tea plants,” he continued.
According to Irdika Mansur, it was recorded that 173 plants [including broom, cloves, pepper, citronella], could be extracted into essential oils.
“The export value of essential oils as essential oil reaches 10 trillion Rupiah per year. Indonesia is the top three in the world, competing with India and China,” he said.
Broom plants are widely distributed, especially in heath forest areas, on the north and east coasts of Bangka Island, and almost all over the coast of Belitung Island. This distribution is in line with the Sundaland heath forest ecoregion map on the oneearth.org website .
According to Eddy Nurtjahya, a biology researcher from Bangka Belitung University, the Sapu Sapu area is part of the heath forest.
“However agreed Whitten et al . , it comes from degraded heath forests.”
In Indonesia’s High Conservation Value Toolkit  , heath forest must be maintained in its natural condition with a buffer zone of at least one kilometer, as little as possible activities are carried out there.
Director of Walhi for the Bangka Belitung Islands, Jessix Amundian hopes that the program for the development of the bangka belitung plant should not only be economically oriented.
“The main thing is to restore the original forest ecosystem, especially the degraded heath forest. The brooms that grow wild in Bangka Belitung are in the process of moving towards the heath forest, therefore the development of essential oils must be done wisely,” he said