Blog 2: a smoky start
Land clearing is one of the biggest threats to Borneo’s forests. Each year many hectares of rainforest are cleared for agricultural use – forests that are home to orang-utans, pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos and many other species that seek shelter and find food in these forests.
‘Slash and burn’ is the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to clear land for agriculture which is why it is so hard to control. It was a timely reminder of why we’re here, why we’re doing what we do.
With sleepy, smoky eyes, we enter Pontianak. A long, flat, busy city – who knew that traffic jams in Indonesia existed outside of Jakarta! – surrounded by green.
Our planned first stop, to visit students at Bhayangkari High School, was postponed due to our lateness so we lunch first and it is a good thing we do – we all seem in need of some revitalisation after our slow, early morning.
The feast we found at Handayani restaurant was incredible. A long table bowing under plates of local deliciousness like squid in squid ink, banana leaf flower, a local sambal (chilli) with mango and a delicious fern-like weed called pakis that grows wild around Borneo – I discovered it in Sarawak and was very happy to find it again.
Refreshed, we return to Bhayangkari High School for an afternoon of learning about environmental issues and sharing ideas on how to work towards a healthier planet – all under the direction of WWF West Kalimantan’s Communications Coordinator and our guide, the very knowledgeable, insightful Jimmy. It’s interesting to compare the perspectives of the students from Jakarta to those from Pontianak – the Jakarta students were directing us towards the big national picture while the local students were bringing the focus back down into the everyday – each complementing the other.
It was inspiring to watch these bright, intelligent young people interact with each other and talk about protecting our planet, fully aware of the earth’s importance.
We’ve asked the students to keep a diary documenting their experience so keep checking back as we’ll update these posts from their perspective soon.