Jakarta (ANTARA) - Thousands of Indonesians - from the President to farmers - throughout the country planted trees to mark the Indonesian Tree Planting Day and National Planting Month 2012 on November 28, with the aim to promote environmental preservation.

In line with the Presidential Decree No. 24/2008, the government had declared November 28 as the Indonesian Tree Planting Day (HMPI) and December as the National Planting Month (BMN). This year`s theme for HMPI and BMN is "Urban Forests Promote Green Indonesia".

In the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and other high-ranking officials led the tree planting movement at the Urban Forest area of the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Cengkareng, Banten province.

The head of state planted a sapling of Manglid (Manglieta glauca), while the First Lady planted a Sempur (Dillenia SP). Vice President Boediono planted a Tanjung (Mimusops elengi) and his spouse, Herawati Boediono, planted a Kenari (Canarrium S) sapling.

During the function, the President and the forestry minister also presented awards to the governors, district heads and mayors who had been declared winners in One-billion Tree Planting Competition 2011.

The Central Java governor won the Platinum Gold award because the province had been winning the first prize in the competition at the national level for the past three consecutive years.

At the provincial level, the first prize was collected by East Java Governor Soekarwo, while West Sumatra and North Sulawesi were runner-up and second runner-up, respectively.

The winner at the district level was Grobogan district head Bambang Pudjiono, while Kubu Raya district head Muda Mahendrawan won the second prize, with North Minahasa district head Sompie S.F Singal winning the third prize.

And at the municipality level, Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini was declared a winner, with the runner-up and second runner-up being Balikpapan mayor Rizal Effendi and Metro mayor Lukman Hakim, respectively.

Thousands of trees were planted simultaneously in various regions in Indonesia on the same day during the tree planting day/month commemoration.

For instances, the Maluku provincial capital of Ambon planted 500 trees on a two hectare land; Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan) 2,500 trees; Pulau Pisang in Central Kalimantan 2,000 trees; East Kutai in East Kalimantan Province 700 trees; Bogor (West Java) 500 rare trees; and Pontianak (West Kalimantan) 300 trees.

Every province has also set a target of planting millions of trees to support the one-billion tree planting program annually. South Sumatra Province, for example, has targeted to plant a total of 150 million trees this year.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan on the occasion reported that the implementation of the tree planting program in the past three years had surpassed the target set at one billion trees annually.

More than one billion trees are planted every year. In 2010, the country planted 1.3 billion trees and this figure increased to 1.5 billion in 2011.

For this year, as of October 2012, a total of 737 million trees (or 70 percent of the target) have been planted.

Since 2010, Indonesia has been planting more than three billion trees. The country has also prohibited the conversion of peat land, President Yudhoyono said in his speech marking the inauguration of the tree planting day/month on November 28, 2012.

"Instead of just talking, it is important to implement a programme. Indonesia chooses to take actions, instead of just talking," Yudhoyono said.

Indonesia has voluntarily offered to reduce carbon emissions in the country by up to 26 percent or up to 41 percent with international support by 2020.

Indonesia is working closely with Sweden to preserve the environment through the "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Plus" programme.

Indonesia has managed to reduce the deforestation rate from 3.5 million hectares per year to 450,000 hectares per year.

Besides, the head of state has also instructed schools to include courses on environmental conservation into the curriculum.

Yudhoyono in 2007 initiated the establishment of multilateral Coral Triangle Initiative, which will sustain extraordinary marine and coastal resources in six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, whose waters area is known as the "Amazon of Sea" because of its rich marine biodiversity.

To recognize his hard work and concrete actions in conserving the nature, Yudhoyono was presented with the first-ever "Valuing Nature Award" by the Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute and WWF in New York in September 2012.

"In the meantime, we are aggressively implementing reforestation. And I personally led a national tree planting campaign that succeeded in planting one billion trees per year so far, some three billion trees have been planted. That`s almost one for every 2 persons on the planet," Yudhoyono said in his speech when accepting the Valuing Nature Award in the US, last September 2012.

When observing Indonesia`s Tree Planting Day and National Tree Planting Month in West Java, on December 8, 2009, the head of state urged the nation to plant 4 billion trees by 2020 and 9.2 billion trees by 2050.

"If we can plant at least half of what we have targeted, we can reduce carbon emissions by 46 billion, by 2050. The figure is indeed pessimistic, but if we can plant more trees, more CO2 can be captured, and this will be our contribution to the world," the president said.

First Lady Kristiani Herrawati Yudhoyono is also as keen as her husband in tree planting campaign. She initiated the Women`s Movement of Tree Planting and Nursing in 2007 focusing on fruit-bearing trees, as part of the country`s contribution to reducing the impact of global warming.

For her efforts in encouraging Indonesian women to plant a total of 14 million trees simultaneously across the country, she won a United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) award "Certificates of Global Leadership" in 2008. ***3***

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2012