Written by Petricia A. Hutasoit (BNF Education Staff)
Borneo Nature Foundation’s education program is facilitating learning and education for youth and adolescent near the Sebangau National Park, aiming to reconnect children to nature surrounding their immediate environment, one of them is by introducing community seedling and plant nursery at a young age. This children group, who name themselves as Anak Sebangau, or Children of Sebangau, visited a community seedling nursery near Sebangau forest and be introduced to one of the most important phases of conservation effort, particularly in reforestation and forest rehabilitation: A community-based seedling nursery, run and managed by the committed local community in Kereng and Sabaru, to support the collaborative reforestation effort of fire-damaged forest in Sebangau National Park.
Anak Sebangau went to visit the Community Seedling Nursery and during their visit, they learned how the nursery work and why it is important for their lives in the medium and long term. Children were excited and curious, as they asked so many questions when they received explanations and presentation by Pak Selwi, a local community working in the nursery. Not only a tour and presentation about the nursery, the children also experienced first-hand in how to grow seedling, from filling soil in the polybag, making a hole with their finger to make space for the seed to grow, and organise them in their planting beds, based on its order. Finally, the children get to water the seedling they just planted and organised. The Community based nursery is growing three plant species; Gerunggang (Cratoxylon glaucum), Blangiran (Shorea balangeran), and Jambu-jambu (Syzygium havilandii).
In the interactive dialogue session with Pak Selwi, a number of children noticed that several seedling plants have some bad and dry leaves. Curious, the children asked why those leaves dried while nutrition and water were sufficient. A nursery staff explained that seeds can experience stress for being moved to polybag. The answer surprised the children as they realized that plants can also experience stress.
The next day, children visited another community-based nursery in another location that implements the different method of the nursery. In this location, children saw one planting bed covered individually with nets and stand a bit distant from each other. At the previous location, all seedlings are planted in different planting bed but under one big net. The children were curious as to why. A community member working at the nursery explained that each individual net functions to protect the seedlings from leaves falling from surrounding trees. These dead leaves if goes unattended could block the sun from the seedlings which can hamper its growth. So, each planting bed uses an individual net for easy cleaning of dead leaves from surrounding trees. In that location, children also participate in planting seeds in polybags, but with a little different step. Children had to carefully observe and clean all stone, roots and wood scraps from the soil before planting the Jambu-jambu (Syzygium havilandii) seeds. After its completed, the children organised each seed plant in planting beds, and then water them.
From this experience, we want children to get knowledge and understanding about plant nursery through fun and hands-on learning. We believe that we can learn anything new every day, anywhere and from anyone.