In terms of urban area, Jakarta is the second biggest city in the world. And it’s still growing; areas on the outskirts are quickly swallowed by the urban sprawl, and the increasing number of industrial centers is already having an environmental impact. But in the satellite towns of Bekasi and Karawang, locals are finding ways to push back against the concrete tide: by planting more trees.
Replanting urban forests offers all kinds of benefits. Trees combat pollution and lower temperatures. They provide habitats for animals and livelihoods for people. They filter drinking water, protect against flooding and prevent soil erosion. On a larger scale, urban forests are proven to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change by sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
Going Green in Greenland: Trees4Trees’ Replanting Program
Recognizing the importance of urban forests, and with support from Microsoft and One Tree Planted, Trees4Trees kicked off a tree-planting initiative in the Greenland International Industrial Center (GIIC) in Bekasi and the Karawang International Industrial Center (KIIC) in Karawang. The program, which began in November 2022, has already covered an area of 25 hectares.
“With this project, our goal is to plant 25,000 trees in GIIC and KIIC,” explains Anto Wartono, Planning Manager at Trees4Trees. “We hope these trees will soon grow into urban forests.”
According to Anto, Trees4Trees has already planted 17,778 trees around GIIC and KIIC. Around 8,000 more trees are expected to be planted in the area over the next few weeks.
The program actually went beyond planting. To raise public awareness about the importance of green spaces in urban areas, Trees4Trees engaged with local women farmers and ran an environmental campaign in local schools and communities.
Rehabilitating the Riverbanks
One of the main goals of the project is to restore areas around rivers. In recent years, the riverbanks have been eroding away due to land conversion. Trees4Trees focused on areas either side of the Cipamingkis and Cikalapa rivers, which flow through the GIIC area in Bekasi and the KIIC in Karawang, respectively.
In Jakarta, temporary shelters are a common sight on the city’s riverbanks. During the rainy season, rising water levels can lead to floods and landslides. Adding trees to the banks of rivers is an effective defense against these dangers.
“Many riverbanks have been converted into residential areas and semi-permanent buildings,” says Anto, who has experienced plenty of obstacles to urban planting. “Unlike in rural areas, planting trees in urban areas is more challenging – there are only a few spaces we can use as green areas.”
Greening Industrial Areas, Supporting Farmers
The process of urbanization and land conversion is also squeezing farmers off their land. As part of the urban forest project, Trees4Trees has been working with displaced farmers, helping them establish plantations in the newly reforested areas. By planting trees with high economic value – like durian, avocado, and caqui – we are helping devise new and sustainable ways to support local livelihoods.
“We have planted 3,085 trees in two villages around KIIC, Puseurjaya and Margamulya village,” says Anto. “While in the GIIC buffer zone, we have planted 2,300 trees in Pasirtanjung village by involving local farmers,” he added.
Trees4Trees’ work in KIIC also covered the Telaga Desa conservation area; an educational park that provides a precious green oasis in Karawang. As part of the project, more than 3,000 trees were planted here. Trees species chosen for this purpose included kemang (white mango), buni (currant), pulai (blackboard tree), mundu (yellow mangosteen), genitri (rudraksha), puspa (needlewood), and gandaria (mango plum).
“These trees will grow 20 meters high in 5 years,” explains Gavin Hodge, the DCD Project Manager at Microsoft. He joined the activity in GIIC and KIIC area as a volunteer tree planter, and believes this project will offer a range of benefits. “(It’s) going to protect our environment and improve the estate, while also improving the situation for the community. So it’s good that Microsoft can be a part of it.”
With support from Microsoft, and in collaboration with local farmers, schools, and communities, Trees4Trees will continue replanting urban areas around Jakarta. Every sapling holds enormous potential. In time, they could change the landscape in one of the world’s biggest urban areas.
To find out more about our ongoing replanting programs, and to see how you can help, visit trees4trees.org.
Writer: V. Arnila Wulandani. Editor: Christopher Alexander