In Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, there’s a river that runs through the forest. She’s slow and meanders humbly through the plains. The locals call her the Rungan River, and she may seem insignificant but she is a holder of life. Her habitat is one of the wildlife-richest forests in Southeast Asia. The clouded leopard, the rhinoceros hornbill, the orangutan, and the local people all depend on the great ironwood forest that soaks up her magic.
These lands, at over 100,000 hectares in size, make up the largest forest in Central Kalimantan that has no formal conservation status. Development into oil palm and acacia plantations, as well as the forest fires that have occurred every year, are a big threat to the sacred forests and the local community has reached out for help…
Gardens of the Sun hopes to make an impact through a partnership with the Borneo Nature Foundation, a non-profit organization that protects one of the most important areas of tropical rainforest in Borneo. The organization is now setting up family nurseries that are run by local women and their families: the Women’s Tree Nursery Initiative.
Gardens of the Sun will make sure that the initiative receives the basics to set up a nursery, such as soil, polybags and paranets. The seeds will be collected from the nearby forest; all will be local species. The women will work from their home nurseries to propagate seedlings. Once the seedlings are large enough to survive, they will be transported to restoration plots in the nearby forest to support the wildlife that has suffered a lot from the recent El Nino fires.
The profits allow the women to support their basic needs and that of their families. The impact of these trees extends far beyond the environment. It will not just provide oxygen, fodder and a safe place for endangered wildlife, but also provides vulnerable community members with jobs, sustenance and a future.
The effect of each and every tree will be felt for generations to come.
Not only do we hope to make an impact through tree planting, but we also feel very strongly about reducing post-consumer waste. Your Gardens of the Sun piece will be wrapped in beautiful, recycled packaging, lovingly hand-crafted by Banana Paper Bandung, a community enterprise in Bandung, West Java, that makes paper from banana stems.
Banana stems produce fruit only once. After harvesting the fruit, farmers have to cut the banana stems to allow for new fruits to grow. These stems become waste that is usually composted after harvesting, but their high cellulose content makes it a great source for paper. Around five to six stems are used to extract 1 kg of fiber for paper.
Because it only takes about a year for a new bunch of bananas to mature – as opposed to trees for conventional paper, which take at least seven years to grow – each ton of banana paper made saves between 15 and 20 trees. It also uses less energy and water than the normal paper industry, so there’s less environmental pollution.
Banana Paper Bandung was born when its founder, Muhammad Syafiq, saw how much banana waste was produced and started learning to turn this waste into paper. He refined his processes and trained a few other people, turning his idea into an actual business. He then used this opportunity to resolve the high unemployment rates in his village. He now has around 10 employees and they process over a ton of banana stems per month.
Syafiq also trains others to make their own banana paper, empowering them to start and manage their own small banana paper businesses.
We love their creations and designs, and are so happy to use their packaging.
From the women of Borneo and a young man in Bandung with a vision, to a Dutch girl in Bali who loves designing jewelry and then to thoughtful people like you, we all have a choice to make smart decisions and become aware of their impact on the world.
If you’d like to do more, get in touch directly with the Borneo Nature Foundation to find out how you can help. It might sound like a cliché, but every little bit really helps.
The aim of the Women’s Tree Nursery Initiative is to plant 60,000 trees. You can keep track of how many trees we’ve planted so far through our humble tree counter at the top of this page, next to your shopping cart. Spread the word and help us plant more!
Thank you so much for helping us plant some real gardens of the sun!- Meri Geraldine & the Gardens of the Sun team