Peresto’s‌ ‌ecosystem‌ ‌restoration‌ ‌journey:‌ ‌finding‌ ‌a‌ ‌way‌ ‌back‌ ‌to‌ ‌nature‌

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22 December 2021
Sumarni Laman

I’d like to share the ecosystem restoration journey of our field seedling coordinator, Paresto, who has dedicated decades of his life to restoring damaged forests on the island of Kalimantan. Ecosystem restoration is a practice of love, because everyone who takes part in it cares about, and dedicates their lives to, nurturing delicate degraded spaces for the benefit of humans and other species.  This is the story of Peresto’s love for the ecosystems of Kalimantan. 

The beginning of the journey

It all started when young Peresto found himself captivated by the alluring beauty of forest and trees. Then, when he grew up, he pursued his passion for the environment and biodiversity, and built his skills and knowledge of trees and nursery techniques, by attending nursery training. For more than 18 years, he had worked in various organizations and companies as seedling general manager.    

“I remember during my training days, people would be fined if they damaged the leaves or stems of our seedlings. Therefore, I would always walk vigilantly in the nursery and conscientiously water or give fertilizer so I would not cause any harm to our seedlings,” expressed Peresto.

Working for years nurturing trees has strengthened Peresto’s connection to nature. “To be able to take care of tree seedlings properly, you should understand the language of trees,” he said. “They talk and express their feelings through their leaves, stems, and roots. For example, if you see the leaves of your trees turn yellow, they are telling you that they are thirsty and need more water. If you have feelings for trees, you will never have the heart to just leave the tree alone after you plant it. You will always think about the condition of the tree.”  

However, due to personal reasons, Paresto decided to resign from his job and return to his village in 2018. During his first year in the village, Peresto was confused about what to do because of the limited job opportunities available. Economic pressure finally pushed him to become a carpenter. 

The endgame

“I was crying when I held the chainsaw to cut a tree for the first time,” he recounted. “I had worked for years nurturing tree seedlings, which I cared for with the same love as I care for my own children. And now, I had to cut down trees to put food on the table for my family. It was not easy – it was heartbreaking”.

“When Ranu Welum invited me back to work as a field seedling coordinator, I was very happy,” he went on. “This makes me more enthusiastic about paying attention to nature, especially the forest in our village, Talekoi. I have a new place to share my knowledge and concern for the environment with young people.” 

Over the last year, Peresto has become a key figure in The Heartland Project. He has inspired numerous youth in his village, as well as the young people we invited to Talekoi to learn about the meaning of forests and how to care for local trees. He has nurtured young leaders to become stewards of ecosystem restoration.

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.