Seed orchard, first step in the restoration of Batur UNESCO Global Geopark in Bali
Yet this landscape of magnificence comes at a price for the local residents, who are among the poorest in Bali. The 15 villages in and around the caldera depend on unsustainable agricultural production, mainly the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and some tourism for their livelihoods. Landscape degradation has increased sediment runoff into the lake, reducing its depth and water quality, increasing flooding downstream, and promoting the growth of aquatic weeds. This presents an emerging threat to communities that depend on the lake for drinking water, fish, cultural and religious practices, and recreational and cultural tourism.
In this complex scenario, the restoration team on a foggy morning in March unloaded a truck carrying 540 seedlings of pinnate pongamia (also known as Pinnate Millettia and locally as “malapari”) from a specialized nursery at the Watershed and Protected Forest Management Center.
“A seedling seed orchard is a critically important first step in any restoration project,” explained Ni Luh Arpiwi, senior lecturer in seed domestication at Udayana University in southern Bali, who led the cultivation of seedlings.
“It provides high-quality seeds adapted to local conditions that can be grown to produce more trees to expand the scale of restoration. We have selected seeds from strong, healthy and productive trees in East, West and South Bali, mainly from coastal areas, as trees at higher elevations have long been cut down for timber and other uses. The seeds were first grown in the nursery of the government’s Center for Watershed Management and Protected Forests, then transferred to the university for further selection and care before they are ready for planting today.
Malapari, endemic to Bali, other parts of Indonesia and all of Southeast Asia, is particularly well suited to restoring degraded land. It grows fast and well in most conditions, even degraded ones, such as the volcanic sand of Batur. Its leaf litter helps create fertile soil. It fixes nitrogen through its roots, which means less or no fertilizer is needed if other crops are grown nearby. Its canopy is also of a suitable shape for shading staple crops, such as coffee and cocoa. And finally, it produces seeds with a high oil content that can be used as biofuel, in cosmetics and for cooking.
“Malapari is little known but holds great promise,” said Himlal Baral, senior land restoration scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), who initiated much of the restoration. “The SSO will not only provide seeds for longer-term restoration work, but will serve as a research site to produce trees that can thrive and be more productive in the harsh conditions of the Geopark and beyond.”
Traveling especially for the Yogyakarta planting on the neighboring island of Java, Budi Leksono, a senior seed domestication expert with the Forestry Research and Development Agency of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, shared with Arpiwi and his team his in-depth knowledge acquired over several decades. establish and manage seed source orchards.
“Designing an SSO is key to ensuring good results,” he explained. “We planted 30 families with three trees per plot and six repetitions in order to be able to compare performance. The weakest or worst performing individuals will be thinned to two trees per plot, leaving 180 trees at a final spacing of 5 x 6 meters.
Members of the Bukit Pule Forest Farmers Group had a few days earlier prepared the site by clearing weeds and a path, jokingly called “Pongamia Street”, and digging holes at the initial spacing of 5 x 2 meters and to the depth and width dimensions recommended by Arpiwi. On planting day, along with the other conservators, they eagerly planted the seedlings despite the difficult terrain and inclement weather.
I Wayan Gobang Edy Sucipto, Deputy Geopark Manager, along with other Geopark and Kintamani District colleagues were on site and planting. He was enthusiastic about the prospects for restoration and, in particular, the use of Malapari.
“We fully support this work,” he said. “This will not only improve the general environment and increase the tourism potential of the Geopark, but will also improve the livelihoods of residents, who are already showing their willingness to use sustainable agricultural and forestry practices.”
Over 3,000 Malapari seedlings had already been distributed to farmers to grow on their own land and more are coming to meet the demand.
“Farmers in the region have listened and now understand the benefits that can come from growing Malapari with coffee and other crops,” Gobang said.
The seedling seed orchard is the first stage of a large restoration program planned by the communities, the geopark, the district of Kintamani, the National Agency for Research and Innovation (BRIN), the University of ‘Udayana, Ministry of Forestry and Environment (MOEF), Ministry of Development Planning (Bappenas), Clean Power Indonesia, MOEF Forest Management Unit (KPH) East Bali, non-governmental organizations and l National Institute of Forest Science of the Republic of Korea.
“There are around 10,000 hectares of degraded land in the Geopark and its surroundings,” Baral said. “This requires not only a coordinated local effort for restoration, but also collaboration with national and international partners, such as BRIN, MOEF and the National Institute of Forest Science of Korea.”
Korea has a long history of successful restoration of severely degraded land under extreme conditions that we are already learning about through our collaboration through the Institute-funded Reforestation and Sustainable Community Enterprises Project.
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