Mon, 24 Feb 2003

2,500 people plant trees on Merapi slopes

YOGYAKARTA: About 3,00 civil servants, military and police personnel, party activists, members of charitable organizations, and local residents of Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, planted a wide variety of trees on the southern slopes of Mt. Merapi on Saturday.

The reforestation campaign was focused on the so-called third square slope -- the highest in the Turgo mountain range -- which is now completely deforested due to fires during last year's dry season.

The trees planted on Saturday included mahogany, acacia, damar, suren, puspa, gayam and salam trees, which were provided by the Sleman regental administration.

Sleman Regent Ibnu Subiyanto, who led the reforestation drive, said the move was part of efforts to save the Merapi area, which had suffered severe deforestation due to fires and landslides.

He also said that the mountains in the area had been neglected over the past six years.

"For the past six years, no attempts have been made to plant trees on the mountains. So, it is not at all surprising that the area has been completely deforested," Ibnu said on Saturday. --JP