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Tunggadewa Mattangkilang | April 23, 2012

Freed Orangutans, Cleaner Beaches And Bottle-apple Swaps On Earth Day

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Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan. People across the country marked the annual Earth Day on Sunday with gatherings aimed at improving neighborhoods and pledges to preserve the environment.

In Samboja Lestari, scores of orangutans earlier placed in a rehabilitation center by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation were released into the forest.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said that during the next five years, all orangutans must be released to the forest.

Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya called on people to save orangutans and support forest rehabilitation by planting more trees.

“While the world uses the polar bear as an icon in protecting biodiversity, we can save orangutans as our way to save biodiversity,” he said.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said the government was committed to maintaining a balance between economic development, preservation of the environment and fixing social problems.

“I am very proud to see the orangutans at last return to their habitat where they should live. I hope all stakeholders, including civil society groups and businesses, to continue to cooperate to conserve biodiversity,” he said.

In the city of Bengkulu, residents commemorated Earth Day by conducting a campaign urging people to dispose of their garbage thoughtfully.

At least 300 people joined an activity to clean the southwest Sumatran city’s beach.

“We just want to set an example to people on the importance of having our environment clean from garbage,” said Sofian, a coordinator of the Puspa Langka Community.

In Purwokerto, Central Java, dozens of activists worked together to clean the Banjaran River, which divides the city, to mark Earth Day.

Meanwhile, singer Tasya Kamila spoke in front of 1,000 residents in Padang, West Sumatra, on the importance of preserving the environment.

She said that if the Earth was destroyed, people would not have a place to live.

“In using perfume, for instance, we must ensure that it is safe. Make sure it is environmentally friendly,” Tasya said.

In Pekanbaru, Riau, environmentalists and students gave tree seeds to residents while hosting a performance demonstrating the importance of the environment.

The Pekanbaru administration also held a car-free day along the city’s main streets.

Students in Bandung commemorated Earth Day by offering residents a chance to exchange three plastic bottles for an apple. “We set up five posts along the main streets. So far we have provided 80 apples in exchange,” said Melisa, a volunteer.

In Makassar, several nongovernmental organizations and environmentalists staged a rally.

“The rally is a manifestation of our concern about the increasingly critical condition of the earth. Therefore, we must always be aware of the need to save the earth,” environment activist Zulkarnaen said. At the rally, the demonstrators called for efforts to save the earth.

Additional reporting from Antara


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