The third generation of Kalimantan Green Warriors: exploring burned peatland, palm, and sengon monoculture

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22 December 2021
Sumarni Laman

On a sunny morning in mid-October, our team gathered in our headquarter to begin our journey to restore the degraded burned peatlands in a remote area in Palangka Raya City. Seven selected warriors who finished all their missions in the previous selection stage of our leadership program, The Rise of Kalimantan Green Warriors, also joined this journey. Mayang, Nisa, Daud, Nida, Rais, Dinda, and Baley were the selected warriors, and this is how their story began. 

Their journey started a few weeks earlier when they received recommendations from the Green Warrior alumni batches 1 and 2 to join the first selection stage of this green leadership program. Seventeen Kalimantan youths successfully passed the first selection and became part of the Green Warriors. 

“Many of my friends in school were very enthusiastic to join Green Warrior because they were very inspired with stories from our friend who got selected. They want to learn about peatlands, explore forests and connect to Indigenous people. Fortunately, I got the recommendation and was able to join this great program,” said Mayang, a 19-year-old high school student. 

The first mission for the Green Warriors Generation 3 was restoring burned peatland in the Tangkiling area, located in Palangka Raya city. The area experienced a severe fire in 2015, which burned many ancient tree species. We traveled to the location by motorbike for one hour on small sandy roads, through forests that have started to become green again. After we arrived, we immediately set up a tent, cleaned the plot area, and made wooden pegs. Because the condition of the location is dry and hot, we chose the plantation area near a small river to ensure the tree that we planted can grow and thrive. We planted twenty different endemic peatland tree species, in order to protect and preserve the local flora.

The second mission was to explore the peat swamp forest and to learn about the unique characteristics of this valuable ecosystem, including its water, soil, and species. This area is squeezed by oil palm plantations on the south side and sengon plantations on the west side. Fortunately, the plantation supervisors allowed us to explore their plantation areas and help us to delve deeper into these three different ecosystems. 

“The three ecosystems are totally different. While the peat forest has moist soil, and many different trees and animal species, in the palm and sengon monoculture plantation you cannot find any of these characteristics. The soil in palm and sengon plantations is very dry. You cannot see any other tree species. It is also very silent – I cannot hear the beautiful voices of insects and birds. It is heartbreaking. I do not want all my forests to turn into monoculture,” expressed Daud, a university student, after he explored these three ecosystems.

After finishing all the missions, we returned to the city. However, completing all the missions in this program is not the finish line. Being green warriors is a responsibility to do more for the Earth. We hope that all the experience and knowledge from this program can ignite the fire in their hearts to dedicate their lives to protecting nature.

Sumarni Laman

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Supporting partners

Under the banner of Generation Restoration, the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) launched the Restoration Stewards program in 2020 to support and highlight the work of six young restoration practitioners and their teams, dubbed ‘Restoration Stewards’. The year-long program provides funding, mentorship, and training to deepen the impact of these projects.
In 2021, the Restoration Stewards and their teams will be supported to further develop their project and will become ambassadors at both global and local levels. Globally, the Restoration Stewards will share their journey in a series of vlogs and blogs documenting their stories of inspiration and challenges. Locally, they will spark a restoration movement, creating pathways to connect, share, learn, and act for more sustainable landscapes.