On Earth Day, we made the world’s most sustainable post on Instagram. At the start of the campaign, for every 10 likes the post received, we would plant 1 tree in Indonesia. As a result, we’ll be planting 500,000 trees on your behalf! But you might be wondering,what kinds of trees will be planted? Who’s doing the planting? What will the impact be? We’ll answer those questions below.
Our planting sites in Indonesia are found on Biak Island, which is located on the northern coast of West Papua. These efforts have been focused on two locations: mangrove restoration on the eastern edge of Biak Island near Mnurwar and a partnership with the village of Korem to plant pineapple trees, mangroves, and tropical forest. These efforts include the restoration of mangroves, tropical forests, as well as agroforestry.
Biak Island was chosen because deforestation had left the island more susceptible to natural disasters, like flooding from tsunamis and hurricanes. Replanting mangrove trees is an important part of reducing the impact of this flooding, and as mentioned above, creates a safe nursery for schooling fish and improving the livelihoods of local fishers.
Who will be planting the trees?
All of the tree planters working in Indonesia are hired locally by our partner organization Eden Reforestation Projects. These jobs provide an important alternative to the sand mining industry. Sand mining is the most common type of mineral mining in the world and serves as a major source of income for villages like Korem, located on Biak Island.
Sand Mining has an enormously negative environmental impact. In Indonesia, as many as 24 small islands have been mined out of existence entirely by the sand mining industry. On Biak, sand mining lays waste to mangrove estuaries, degrades coral reefs, and is pushing species to the edge of extinction. Korem and one neighboring village have committed to end support of sand mining, but other villages in the area have not yet agreed to do so.
Jobs in sand mining are difficult and often unsafe. Tree planting jobs on Biak Island pay better and are less hazardous to the health of the workers.
Are the tree planters paid fairly?
All of our tree planters are fairly compensated for their work, and they’re excited to do it! Local villagers are motivated by the opportunity to make life better for their families. When we first landed in the village of Mnurwar, we were greeted by 75 villagers who were excited by the opportunity to plant trees and make extra income for their families. Planting trees on Biak Island is not a full time, year-round job. The income from it is supplemental. But while the tree planting season is ongoing, these families experience a 50% increase in their income, which can be life-changing.
Is the tree planting process eco friendly?
Like most countries around the world, Indonesia has an enormous issue with plastic pollution. Even on Biak, you can find plastic bottles pretty much everywhere. They’re in forests, on roadsides, on the beaches, etc. Most nurseries use small, plastic sleeves to grow saplings. Instead of adding even more new plastic to the pollution, planters in Biak are collecting these discarded water bottles and using them to grow saplings.
When the sapling is ready to be planted, it is removed from the plastic bottle and given its new, permanent home. But what happens to the bottle? Planters reuse these plastic bottles a minimum of 15 times over the course of about 5 years before the bottles become unusable. It’s an ingenious solution to a significant problem.
How long will it take to plant 500,000 trees?
Tree planting on Biak is not a year-round job. For tree planters, this is generally part time work. Tree planters will usually work 5 to 10 days a month, increasing their household income by around 50% on average. It is difficult to say exactly how long it will take to plant 500,000 trees. Currently, nurseries on Biak Island have around 50,000 trees growing. Once they’re ready, a single tree planter can plant as many as 4,000 trees in a single day!