In the last quarter of 2017, East Java hit by landslide and floods. Thousands of homes flooded and 4,000 people forced to evacuate. Just in 2017, there is 2.341 disaster in Indonesia, and 95% of it categorized to hydrometeorological disaster. It was Flood and landslide hit Indonesia the most.

Each expert whose coming to stage blaming environmental degradation as the driver. The common suggestion arises planting trees as one of the solutions. President Joko Widodo seems unhappy with offered solutions. Right after the disastrous flood, The President attends Indonesian Tree Planting Days and the National Tree Planting Month in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta. The president has criticised greening and land-restoration programs. In between the speech he directly asked the audience “Where are the trees?” (The Jakarta Post,10/12/2017).

The reason behind President Joko Widodo criticism is that nature is available to help in providing adaptive, cost-efficient, and low-regret, disaster risk management solution. Still, massive tree planting movement spread across the country did not show any results to protect the community from risks.

Ecosystem services as the result of massive tree planting movement likely failed and played its role during such extreme weather events. It can be said the movement is purely ornamental without a tangible action. It is undeniably an ongoing tokenism practices.

Ecosystem services for Disaster Risk Reduction

Essentially, ecosystems likely contribute to reducing disaster risk in two important ways. If healthy and appropriately managed, ecosystems can provide natural protection (that is, reduced hazard exposure) and can enhance the livelihood resilience of hazard-prone communities. Ecosystems can reduce physical exposure to common natural hazards, namely landslides, flooding, storm surges, wildfires and drought by serving as natural protective barriers or buffers.

In the scientific realm, various Eco DRR concepts have rapidly increased, and the ideas such as Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EbA), Nature-based solutions, Green Infrastructures and various more have emerged or developed. Eco DRR translates by experts as an interconnected network of green space that conserves natural ecosystem valuesand services and provides associated benefits to human populations.

At the same time, the measure must deliver auxiliary purposes such as sustaining natural life and maintaining environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Eco DRR measure also needs to serve as multi-functional (not only nature conservation or public recreation), (Renaud et al., 2017).

Drawn an example from Japan; The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake (GEJE) in 2011 was a devastating experience in the country. Taro Town in Iwate Prefecture, a coastal town was very famous for its 2,4 kilometers long dual sea walls built to 10,45-metre height to prevent tsunami unable to protect their 4434 population (Asahi Shinbun, 2011).

There are 200 people were lost; people had a false sense of security, and many did not run away because they felt safe behind the seawall. Devastating earthquake followed by a tsunami and a nuclear power accident led to significant progress in domestic and international measures related to Ecosystem-Based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco DRR).

Japan recognized that disaster countermeasures including conventional hard engineering were insufficient and that it was necessary to build social-ecological resilience against future risks and shocks. Although many coastal disaster-prevention forests were devastated by the Tsunami, there were reports of coastal forest helping in dampen the energy of tsunamis and delay their arrival times (Forest Agency Japan, 2012).

For example, a community at Tanaka -Hama beach in Miyagi prefecture added coastal forest restoration to local administrative plan in addition to disaster prevention facilities. As a result, mitigation of future tsunami goes in line with promoting eco-tourism featuring nature experience and empower local livelihood to sustain.

Each year Indonesia witness strikingly the same headlines of loss and destruction caused by the Hydrometeorological disaster. Recurring hazard events namely floods, droughts, heat waves and tropical cyclones possess a profound threat to the effort made in the vital sectors such as education, health, economic development and most importantly environmental sustainability. Furthermore, to the country most remote area, the disaster may undo all the development work of years and push people back into the trap of chronic poverty.

For the past 30 years, planting trees on degraded or cleared forest lands has been identified by the government and its advisers as one means of achieving its conservation and development goals. The infamous tree planting movement in Indonesia is One Man One Tree (2009) and One Billion Indonesian Trees for the World (2010).

In Coastal Area, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs also take the lead in Let’s Plant Mangrove/ Ayo Tanam Mangrove (ATM). Furthermore, within four years (2010-2014) Indonesia has planted overall 4 billion trees as a part of reforestation and mitigating disaster risk.

Nevertheless, the three decades of movement unable to show it supports the country impacted by hazard. A component that been missing from the movement is inviting the hazard-prone community in the decision-making process, planning and implementation.

Putting their roles beyond the object of planting program; Understanding their perception is essential to design policies that are sensible and match to local community needs. Their sense of ownership will help further management of the planting program.

What opportunities lie ahead?

Provisioning services of the ecosystem are often used in reactive (ex-post) strategies, whereas anticipatory (ex-ante) strategies rely more on regulating services. Eco DRR like all DRR activities reduces risk but does not remove risk. It is important to recognize that ecosystems also have limits in protecting against hazards.

Eco DRR should not regard as a single solution to risk reduction. It is an urgent agenda to ensure ecosystem-based measures to be part of a broader disaster risk management strategy and be complementary to other critical risk management measures.

A “hybrid” approach combining both natural and hard engineering defences may be most effective. For example, mangrove forest is rehabilitated and maintained to protect against storms surges and complemented constructed sea dikes, increasing the ineffectiveness and lifespan of the dikes. As in fact, mangrove provides wave attenuations up to 60% (Guannel, 2016).

The recognition of the role of the ecosystem for DRR can play in mitigating hazards of different magnitudes and frequencies and in helping societies adapt to the catastrophes. Notably, there are 64 million Indonesian living in the flood-prone area (BNPB, 2017). Frequent and devastating flooding jeopardizes the lives and livelihoods of these people.

Moving beyond tokenism in tree planting movement and takes ecosystem services into account will help fellow Indonesian at the front line of disaster to be more resilient in a disaster-prone environment.

(Ditulis oleh Syarifah Aini Dalimunthe, Researcher at Research Center for Population – Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Doctoral student at Nagoya University, Japan)

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