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ICRS Hosted Clinic on Religion and Environmental Conservation

  January 8th 2021

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Religious instructors from various regions in Kalimantan jointly mapped environmental problems and identified alternative solutions for environmental recovery during the final session of the training series "Religion, Environmental Conservation and Peat Ecosystem Restoration" organized by Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Peatland Restoration Agency (Badan Restorasi Gambut/BRG). The activity, which was held on November 26, 2020, is the final event designed to measure the level of understanding of participants regarding training materials as well as to compile follow-up plans (Rencana Tindak Lanjut) in the field. Accompanied by three facilitators from UGM, Fatimah Husein, Leonard C. Epafras, and Maharani Hapsari, the participants were directed to formulate concrete actions for environmental restoration in their respective work areas.

To have more focused discussion, the participants were divided into three large groups based on the working areas of Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan. Each group was asked to identify and map various potential alternatives for environmental recovery. Generally, they all agreed that the environmental crisis is a complex problem. It has multilayered dimensions that require handling in every aspect. Therefore, immediate actions need to be taken into account to prevent any more serious effects taking place in nature.

During the session, participants expressed their gratitude for joining the program and were able to dive into new areas of study. One of the participants, Warjiah from South Kalimantan, regretted that  many of the religious instructors have so far only focused on dealing with the religious sector and failed to touch upon other more sensitive issues in the environmental restoration movement. Through this training, she and other participants hope to develop capacity in environmental issues to better equip themselves with advanced knowledge and skills to tackle the ecological problems in their respective regions.

In her notes, Fatimah Husein—the vice director of ICRS as well as the person in charge of the training program—conveyed the expectations of the participants regarding the need for advanced-tiered programs. Participants need practical assistance and training on how to conserve the environment, especially peatland management. They also expect facilities from the government so that environmental recovery runs optimally.

In his closing speech, Suwignya Utama, on behalf of the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), responded positively to the expectation regarding the need to provide periodic assistance. While waiting for the next program from BRG, however, religious instructors are advised to build communication and collaboration with religious leaders, religious institutions, and assisted communities who have received training in peat management. In 2018, BRG collaborated with the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) to bring up peat preachers who were recruited directly from the peat village. In 2019, BRG collaborated with the Council of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) to create Peat Care Churches. And in 2020, BRG in collaboration with MUI built peatland caring mosques for religious and environmental socialization. Through this network, religious instructors are expected to collaborate with those who have gone through the field assistance process to be able to restore the natural environment.