Couples in Indonesia are now required to plant trees before receiving their marriage permit.
“The policy has a noble purpose, and it is necessary to support the government’s tree-planting program,” Iwan Zulhami, an official at the religious affairs office, told the BBC. The policy is only being applied to the Sumatran capital in Medan and in a number of districts on Sulawesi Island. Couples will get two seedlings when they register and the trees must then planted in the couple’s home before the marriage permit is granted.
One official estimated that Medan will get at least 2,000 new trees as a result of the plan which starts in March. The initiative was announced by the religious affairs office, which is where Muslim couples intending to marry must register.
Indonesia is the largest forest nation in South-eastern Asia with an estimated 120 million hectres of rainforest. Illegal and legal logging, forest fires as well as the pressures of a growing population have all had a negative impact on their forests. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Indonesia lost an estimated 18.7 million hectres of forest every year between 2000 and 2005.
In the last couple of years, the Muslim community in Indonesia has been playing an important role in promoting environmental conservation in the region. Indonesia’s Muslim scholars formed an organisation called Dignifying Environment Institution in 2011 with the aim of protecting the country’s forests from harmful practices causing deforestation. Certain madrasahs in Indonesia have also been lauded for their work promoting environmental awareness through Islamic teachings.