On 7 August 2020, more than 100 communities and organizations gathered together and organized the first Indonesian Forest Day festival, with a number of big names such as artist and presenter Daniel Mananta, William Wiguna Founder of Care Plus, musician Pongki Barata, lending their support. The event followed the issuance of Presidential Instruction Number 5 of 2019 on a moratorium on new permits and on improving governance of primary forests and peatlands.
The Indonesian Forest Day celebration itself took up the theme “Our Champion Forests” with Andre Christian, Chairperson of Indonesian Forest Day, saying it was chosen in order to be able to send a message to the world, that Indonesia is a champion nation when it concerns forests.
“This celebration took up the theme ‘Our Champion Forests’ to remind all of us that Indonesia is a champion nation, because its forests cover is the third largest in the world. In order for this to last, there needs to be a collective action from all of us, as good citizens, to protect forests and their biodiversity,” said Andre.
Andre also said that Indonesia’s forest day had started from a petition he made in 2017, and that has currently already been signed by more than 1.5 million people. The petition itself has been submitted to the government for further process.
“Hutan Itu Indonesia had an audience with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in 2019 to present the petition. The response was positive, but for the official declaration from the government, it would need a further process,” he said.
Andre said that the Presidential Instruction, which was officially launched on August 7, 2019 presented a momentum for the start of building awareness of the Indonesian people. So, Andre felt that August 7 was a suitable date to be used for Indonesian forest day.
“We need to remember our real commitment of keeping an eye on forests and jointly protect them, especially since August is synonymous with a month full of the spirit of nationalism in the run up to the commemoration of Indonesia’s Independence Day. Indonesian Forest Day will add to the existing important national days, which are relevant to the lives of us all, and worthy of our celebration,” he added.
Ramon Y Tungka, an Indonesian artist who participated in the festival said that he has been trying to make his own contribution to Indonesian forests by always being strict about living a paperless life, not using items that can destroy the forests. He has also been opting for organic materials, such as organic shampoo and soap. According to him, there was a high demand for all things that are made of palm oil, such as beauty ingredients. And the higher the demand, the more oil palm would automatically be planted, and forests in Indonesia would be cleared.
“Initiatives could take the form of the use of eco-friendly items, and thus prevent deforestation. Be firm in living paperless, focus on organic and eco-friendly goods. Because chemical soaps are from palm oil, if we keep using them, forests would be threatened too,” he said.
In addition to holding the festival, Andre and his team also invited the community to conserve forests with the ‘Adopsi Hutan’ program. Andre and his team have collected funds for the program through the Kitabisa.com channel where the funds raised would be donated to organizations assisting forest communities.
“What is forest adoption? Adopt a forest or area with upright trees. You don’t have to plant. An upright tree must be guarded because the threat against it is there. The target is one billion Rupiah. The more, the better, so that the amount of forests that we adopt for the long term can be reached,” said Andre.