The southern slope of Lawu Mountain, Indonesia, experienced a great forest fire in the 1960s. Hundreds of hectares state-owned pine forest area was devastated by fire and leaves bare slopes in the Regency of Wonogiri, Central Java Province, Indonesia. After the fires, several villages inhabited by more than three thousand people from severe drought. But the conditions began to change when there was a villager from the village takes an initiative. His name was Sadiman, an old man works as a cattle herder for his living. He started to plant some trees on the bare slopes because everyone didn’t care about those problems, even the authorized institutions and also the community itself in the 1990s. In the beginning Sadiman was mocked by many people and even called crazy by people who think that what was done by him was useless. It takes about a decade and thousands of trees planted until his efforts bears fruits and the fruits surely not only for Sadiman but also for the sake of his community. Later, he achieved some prestigious awards such as Kick Andy Heroes 2016 and also Kalpataru, the highest awards for Indonesian citizen in preserving the environment, from the Indonesian government.

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Figure 1. Sadiman’s Forest in Wonogiri Regency, Central Java, Indonesia

Thanks to Sadiman’s well-known initiative and the power of social media nowadays, a location previously known for its disasters, is now a natural tourism hotspot. Many people want to visit the area just to enjoy the beautiful nature and also meet directly with Sadiman. In the 2015 this forest was called by the people in the internet “Hutan Sadiman” or Sadiman’s forest. Sparked with this phenomenon, a lot of young generation or millennials in the Conto village, the village that Mbah Sadiman and another three thousand people lives, starts a community project called CintaConto or love Conto in English. It started by a mass tree planting that joined by hundreds of volunteers from across Indonesia in November 2015. Later, with the help from the nearby Universitas Gadjah Mada’s community service program this community agreed to develop their community project into an eco-tourism area. They built a camping ground, forest track, an outbound area, workshop centers that providing a lot of tourism packages, community field that cultivates varieties of fruit and vegetables, and even a museum for their living legend, Sadiman. Nowadays, Sadiman’s forest is one of the top destinations for nature tourism in the regions.

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Figure 2. Mbah Sadiman

This program will continue to be developed by the villagers because they already felt a positive impact for their local community in terms of social, economic, and environment aspects. This is just an example of a great big achievement that once a mockery. Once again, we found the proof that we, as an individual, could be the game-changer in our local communities. Having a forest named after you sound’s cool huh? Anyway, keep support Sadiman’s legacy by following @cintaconto in Instagram or another local environment initiatives.

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 Figure 3. The Panorama of Hutan Sadiman (left) and the Ngrekso Bhumi Festival (right)

About the author :

Andreas Ade Kristian is an undergraduate student from Faculty of Forestry, Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Indonesia. He is currently doing an exchange program in Yamagata University, Japan and still get involved as a member of IFSA LC UGM Indonesia. He can be contacted at adekristian1997(a)