Why we should care about our city forest

Regia Infographic

Regia Infographic by BatasFana (c)2012

Babakan Siliwangi, a Green Open Space in Bandung, is maintained as a preserved area up to today. On September 27, 2011, Babakan Siliwangi was declared as a World City Forest by the United National Environment Program (UNEP) in TUNSA event (an International Children and Youth Conference on Environment). There are not too many people, even those living in Bandung, know about Babakan Siliwangi City Forest, including a number of its interesting facts. Therefore, a wider dissemination is necessary, in order to reintroduce Babakan Siliwangi City Forest, among other by conducting a variety of creative activities in the area, and by spreading the information about the area. Following are a number of facts about Babakan Siliwangi City Forest.

In the earlier days, there were twelve fresh water springs within Babakan Siliwangi City Forest area, but today only one is left. Soil water surface has been reduced from 22,99meter to 14,35meter (data from 1999). If the area of this city forest is reduced, so will the soil water surface, due to the reduction of its absorbing area.

Babakan Siliwangi City Forest is a habitat for 120 plant species and 149 animal species. It is also a transit spot for six species of migrating birds. If this forest area is gone, the migration route of these birds will be cut.

Trees that grow within the area are, among others, Cola (Cola nitida) and Sempur (Dillenia Indica L.), but the dominant one is Flamboyan (Delonix Regia). Plantations in this area function as a buffer for air and noise pollutions. Whoever spends time in the middle of this city forest will feel a sense of serenity, although it is located very near to crowded big roads.

The width of canopy from the trees that grow in the forest reaches up to 5 hectares, while the width of Babakan Siliwangi area itself is only 3.8 hectares. The canopy functions as a shade that can reduce stress in human beings that stand under the area, since the trees also produce Oxygen.

The function of trees in this area as CO2 absorbance reaches up to 13,680 kilograms per day, while releasing O2 up to 9,120 kilograms per day. If the price of pure O2 is up to IDR 25,000 per liter, then the economic value of Babakan Siliwangi reaches up to IDR 148,000,000. From this calculation, it can be figured that if the area of Babakan Siliwangi is reduced even “only” up to 20%, Bandung will have a loss of about IDR 10 billion.

This information is only a few, compared to all the facts around Babakan Siliwangi City Forest, and these are facts that can mostly be observed and measured. However, beyond these facts, there are other evidences such as people’s interaction, communal activities, and social relationships that are established due to the existence of this unique, open urban space, such as this city forest. Such advantages cannot merely be quantified, since their widespread impacts and sustainability cannot be measured in a short, limited time scope. Judging from the height of activities in this area, which shows the crucial role of an urban space that invites its citizens to come out and enjoy their habitat, it can be concluded that Babakan Siliwangi City Forest should be preserved as a qualified Green Open Space that is kept open for all Bandung citizens.

*the Indonesian version of this article was published in Pikiran Rakyat

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