Palangka Raya, Indonesia, 28 April 2022
The heavy rain did nothing to dampen the young people’s enthusiasm for conservation at the Central Kalimantan (Kalteng) Office for Conservation and Natural Resources (BKSDA). A rich smell of wet soil and moss permeated the air, accompanied by the steady pitter-patter of water droplets against leaves. Every now and then, gibbons (Hylobates albibarbis) were heard from one of the transit crates, turned over to the Central Kalimantan BKSDA by community members, calling to mind the lush rainforests of Kalimantan.
In celebration of Earth Day 2022, “Invest in Our Planet”, dozens of students from State High School 1 (SMAN) Palangka Raya gathered to hear about the government’s commitments to protect and conserve wildlife. During the session, children were taught about all kinds of rare and endangered animals, including the threats to their survival, with a special focus on those species present in Central Kalimantan. Participants also learnt what positive actions they can take to help conserve nature.
One student of the Mathematics and Natural Sciences (MIPA) 4 class, Ni’mah Ridha Azizah, was very happy with the experience, finding it both fun and informative.
“There were lots of things taught about wild animals that I didn’t know before, but now I can identify several kinds of animals that are native to Kalimantan and included in the protected animal category. The way the material was delivered was really engaging as well, so it was much easier for me and my friends to absorb it,” he said.
Ni’mah added that, apart from learning about animals, he now understood how easy it can be to invest in our planet as part of everyday life. “One of the easiest ways to look after the Earth is by saving water and electricity, such as turning off faucets and appliances when they aren’t in use.”
The homeroom teacher of X MIPA 1 class SMAN 1 Palangka Raya, Eka Mintarsih, told us her party was working to strengthen the relationship between people and their environment. The day’s activity, carried out by the Central Kalimantan BKSDA and BNF Indonesia, fell within a broader initiative to raise environmental awareness.
“To improve environmental awareness among the younger generations, we must be strategic and explore less formal means of engagement. In addition to education students about their natural surroundings, we expect Environmental Education (PLH) forums such as this one to promote environmentally friendly attitudes and behaviors,” explains the class teacher and librarian of SMAN 1 Palangka Raya.
According to the Coordinator of BNF’s Conservation Class and Gibbon Goes to School initiatives, Abdul Khafidz, there are both formal and informal routes to engage young people with Environmental Education (PLH).
“BNF Indonesia carries out Environmental Education activities in schools as well as in the wider community. Understanding biodiversity, its function and the consequences of biodiversity loss is a key topic for PLH, which calls for contextual methods and approaches—and that is why we are carrying out this activity with the Central Kalimantan BKSDA,” he said.
Khafidz added that, besides commemorating Earth Day 2022, the activity had been planned to improve students’ knowledge and awareness of Central Kalimantan’s wildlife.
“The material we provided introduces different wild animals and their conservation status, then instructs people on how to campaign for their protection with social media. Following this activity, we hope to see students take initiative and campaign for nature on their respective platforms,” he continued.
The Head of Central Kalimantan BKSDA, Nur Patria Kurniawan, highlighted campaigns led by his party, such as planting seedlings and implementing conservation education with BNF Indonesia by inviting the students of SMAN 1 Palangka Raya to visit the Central Kalimantan BKSDA Office.
“We are keen to share experience and knowledge about conservation with our friends at BNF,” he said.
Nur Patria went on to advise the younger generation to always remember the environment: the forest, our natural surroundings and, ultimately, our collective home. The forest is like a house- over time, damage to the house will make it unsafe to live in, so we must care for and maintain it.
“It’s the same with damage to our environment. If we think of the forest like a house, we know to repair damages early on, and then focus on maintaining and taking care of it for future generations,” he concluded with a hopeful smile.