Relentless eco warriors fight against all odds (

But some beg to differ. With strong determination and hard work, they show that no challenges are impossible to tackle. 

Aziil Anwar from Majene in West Sulawesi is one such individual. He has been dealing with mangrove rehabilitation in his coastal village since the 1990s.

The mangroves in his village had almost disappeared as residents used them as firewood, but he was determined to change the condition.

In some parts, it was quite easy for him to grow the mangroves, but in others, dead coral hampered his efforts.


His curiosities led him to discovering how to grow mangrove on a rock. Many people initially doubted his "Mangrove on Rock" program, but he dismissed it and kept on going.

He and his team have been successful in planting thousands of mangrove trees in the 60-hectare area, protecting the village from floods.

His mangrove rehabilitation program has also succeeded in improving the local economy and his efforts have been recognized by many, including the Indonesian Biodiversity (Kehati) Foundation that recently awarded him the Prakarsa Lestari award as part of the Kehati Awards for his contribution to protecting the country's biodiversity.

The Kehati Awards was first held in 2000 with only one winner from one category. It grew to five categories in 2001, and in 2009 Kehati added one more category, Tunas Lestari.

This year the awards had six categories: the Prakarsa Lestari Kehati award for individuals or groups, the Pendorong Lestari Kehati award for public service organizations or government, the Peduli Lestari Kehati award for businesspeople, the Cipta Lestari Kehati award for scientists or academics, the Citra Lestari Kehati award for mass media or artists, and the Tunas Lestari Kehati award for youngsters.

In its eighth edition this year, the awards saw Achmad Subagio from East Java win the Cipta Lestari, CV Arum Ayu from Banten win the Peduli Lestari, Agustinus Sasundu from North Sulawesi win the Citra Lestari, Janumiro from Central Kalimantan win the Pendorong Lestari, and ecosystem study group Kesemat from Central Java win the Tunas Lestari.

The panel of judges selected the six winners out of 88 applicants. 

Eko Baroto Walujo, the selection panel head, said that to win, each candidate had to show the benefits and impacts of their programs for society and biodiversity. 

"We also assessed the sustainability of their projects, as well as the originality and innovation in what they did," he said.

Another judge, Yono Reksoprodjo, said all winners had shown that their biodiversity programs had added value to the economy.

Each winner received Rp 25 million (US$ 1,960) as a cash prize.

Another winner, Agustinus from Sangihe, developed traditional bamboo instruments to help empower local residents as well as helping traditional music to survive. 

In Sangihe, bamboo musical instruments are often used in cultural events. 

“We used to only have suling [flutes] to play during the events,” he said.

He did some research and made a clarinet, trombone and bass, among others, from bamboo, to enrich the local sound.

He set up a workshop where people could learn to make the instruments so they could sell them for additional income.

Meanwhile, Achmad Subagio received recognition for his work in developing cassava as a food alternative and improving the lives of people living in marginalized areas.

The lecturer and researcher at Jember University decided to get out of his lab and implement his research on cassava-based flour. He set up his own factory, but had to close it due to some problems.

Not giving up, he built another factory and the business went well. He also went to several marginalized areas to help people get out of poverty by providing them with another source of income.

"In those areas, I made working groups to supply the need for the factory. One village is tasked with washing the cassava, another peeling it, and others to dry it or slice it," Achmad said.

The cassava flour is then used to make cookies, cakes, noodles and rice, which are also sold in his stores.

Kehati board chairman Ismid Hadad said the individuals had won because of their efforts, against all odds, to save the environment.

"Without waiting for instruction and assistance from the government, they are protecting the environment,” he said. “They are the new faces of hope in protecting our biodiversity."


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