Growing Green: Microsoft’s Continued Urban Forestry Initiative

Microsoft Tree Planting event

(Microsoft; Growing Green) It was only 8 AM, but already hot as an oven in the GIIC industrial area in Bekasi, just east of Jakarta. Sweltering days are par for the course around here, in one of West Java’s largest and busiest industrial centers, where buildings and factories are scattered all around, and trees are hard to come by.  

But all that is beginning to change. Microsoft Operations Indonesia has teamed up with Trees4Trees and One Tree Planted to launch a tree planting program that will bring shade to the industrial estate and a range of benefits to the surrounding landscape and communities.  

CSR Tree Planting event
(Above) Seedlings planted in 2022 have taken root and are beginning to grow (Photo: Kemas Duga Muis/Trees4Trees)

Balancing development with environment 

This program kicked off in 2022 – 2023, when 22,800 trees were planted. Following the success of that pilot project, 19,000 more trees are being planted in 2024.  

“Together with Microsoft, our goal is to enhance the greenery and create a healthier environment in industrial areas,” explains Pandu Budi Wahono, Trees4Trees’ Program Manager.  

Trees chosen for the program include gmelina and rain trees, which can provide some much-needed shade. Other, multipurpose trees like petai, durian, and jackfruit have also been chosen, as they can provide fruit and other resources for the local community. 

 tree-planting event

Read also: Regreening Jakarta’s Concrete Jungle through Urban Forest

Regreening the urban jungle 

In December 2023, 500 new trees were planted in GIIC by a team of volunteers made up of Microsoft staff, partners, and clients marking the starting of the tree-planting initiative. 

Microsoft Tree-planting
(Above and below) Volunteers from Microsoft plant trees under the hot sun in Bekasi (Photo: Trees4Trees/V. Arnila Wulandani)

photo session with microsoft team

“This tree planting event serves as a reminder for those of us, who work in the technology field, about the significance of environmental protection,” said Elizabeth Simatupang, who is the Data Center Operations Manager at Microsoft Operation Indonesia.  

She also revealed that volunteering had made her more aware of the many benefits trees can offer. “I hope the trees we’ve planted will produce more oxygen and be beneficial to the environment, aligning with our motto: Technology should not cost the Earth,” she added. 

Gavin Hodge is DCD Project Manager at Microsoft Operations Indonesia. This was his second time volunteering with Trees4Trees, and he felt energized to see so many people working to support the environment. 

“It is great to see so many people get involved,” said Gavin, referring to the various Microsoft partners and team members onboard with the project. “I hope big trees will stay here for a long time and remove carbon dioxide, making it a better place to live,” he added.  

Microsoft team
(Above) Gavin Hodge during the tree planting event (Photo: Trees4Trees/V. Arnila Wulandani)

A watershed moment for urban replanting 

Although the program  focuses on creating an urban forest, improving degraded land and providing tree cover, its goals go even further. The industrial areas are located downstream of the Citarum river, specifically alongside the Cipamingkis and Cikalapa rivers., The program aims to restore the watershed and return forest cover to the region, addressing a range of complex challenges triggered by developmental pressures. 

Microsoft tree-planting
(Above) An aerial view of the Cipamingkis River (Photo: Trees4Trees/Kemas Duga Muis)

Amung is a local farmer and one of the project partners, who helps out by growing trees for the planting activities. In recent times, he’s seen the dangers of deforestation and land degradation firsthand: “Recently, when the river burst its banks and flowed into my field, many of my plants were lost.” He blames excessive upstream development for the flood, noting that severe river siltation left the rainwater with nowhere else to go. 

The benefits of Microsoft’s extended planting program spread beyond the industrial estate and into the surrounding landscape, impacting lives and livelihoods in unexpected ways. In addition to providing shade and restoring the watershed, planting trees here can help prevent flooding and protect local farmers from potential ruin. Technology shouldn’t cost the Earth. Thanks to the latest initiatives by Microsoft and partners, development is headed in a more positive direction.  

Watch the video: Urban Forestry Tree-planting with Microsoft

Writer: V. Arnila Wulandani. Editor: Christopher Alexander

Vironica Arnila 11-Jan-24

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