Indonesian Women Protect Nation's Rain Forests With Patrols, Kindness

Jun 6, 2024

Thought Question: What could you do to protect the environment in your community?

In 2015, the village of Damaran Baru in Indonesia suffered heavy rains and flash floods. Hundreds of people, including a villager named Sumini, fled, only to return to ruin. Quickly, they found out a major reason why the flooding had been so bad. Illegal logging had robbed the village of many of its nearby trees.  

“I looked at it and thought, ‘This is what caused the landslides and (havoc),” Sumini told The Associated Press (AP).

Trees help to guard against erosion and flooding. They also offer shade, food, and other resources. Knowing this, Sumini wanted to protect the village’s trees that were left. So she gathered a team of women to help. They began patrolling the forest. At first, she was met with doubt. Indonesia is a largely Muslim country. Women’s roles there are often strictly defined. But Sumini convinced village leaders to allow the women to work for the good of the forest.   

“As a woman,” she argued, “what do we want to do? Do we have to be silent? Or can we not get involved?” 

In the years since 2015, deforestation in the Damaran Baru region has fallen sharply. Sumini’s patrols and others like them have monitored the forest and educated nearby communities on the value of leaving the trees be. When they do spot potential loggers in the woods, Sumini’s rangers address them politely, requesting that they not cut down trees in the area. The cultivation-through-kindness strategy seems to be working.   

Photo of trees in Indonesia from Unsplash courtesy of Roberto Rendon.

What is a synonym for the word ‘torrential’ as it is used in the first paragraph? (Common Core RI.5.4; RI.6.4)
a. heavy
b. mild
c. sporadic
d. major
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