Thank you all for your positive comments about our blogs and Sheryl for your pertinent question about the value/hypocrisy of tree planting. Yesterday, Devis, myself and others of our team took part in the local activities of the national planting day, planting some 1,000 tree around one of the villages which borders the park. We agree with you 100% that reforestation will never replace existing forests. Tropical trees simply take too long to grow for reforestation to ever be truly effective. However, there are two plus points. It is important to engage people in conservation-orientated activities. Promoting tree planting, or more precisely agroforestry, is essential here in Borneo. If you'll pardon the pun, trees root farmers to a particular patch of land. With only seasonal or annual crops, which demand greater soil fertility, farmers need to keep opening up new fields. However, if they have fruit bearing trees, they can receive a regular income from the one plot of land, without having to move.
The second reason is the symbolism of the government focussing on tree planting. It does show that forestry issues are moving up the political agenda and, given that all the local police and Government officials were dragged away from their desks and forced to dig dirt and plant trees, it has the potential effect of making them less sympathetic when they encounter cases of illegal logging for instance!
Speaking of illegal logging, we are battling a case right now, so I may be inclined to agree with the cynical thought that the tree planting day was just green-washing. Honestly though, I am more positive about it. I do think it was a (small) step in the right direction.