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Indonesia: Christian | Batak Church forestry in Sumatra | Restoring the forest round Lake Toba | Toraja Church Forestry in Sulawesi | Indonesia: environment meeting | How the Toraja project works

Batak Church forestry in Sumatra

Erosion due to loss of tree cover threatens the future of the beautiful volcanic Lake Toba, and its central island Samosir

This project, led by the indigenous Batak Church, is restoring forests to the hillsides around Lake Toba and on Samosir Island, to combat soil erosion and water scarcity that is especially severe during the dry seasons. The erosion is largely due to intentional burning of vegetation by local people, to make way for grassland for their free-roaming buffaloes and goats, and to cultivate food crops. The clearing of land has increased as local people have less alternative livelihoods due to much reduced tourism-related activities around Lake Toba.

The Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) Church is the largest Lutheran Church in Asia, with nearly 3,000 mainly rural congregations amounting to 3 million members in the Batak country of North Sumatra.

At 100 kilometres long, the lake is the largest is South East Asia and one of the deepest and highest in the world, being 905 m above sea level
The environment of Lake Toba under threat

In Sumatra, as elsewhere in South East Asia, the environment is under siege from heavy industry and poor land management. The effects of forest clearance, over-farming, soil erosion, mining, and industrial waste pollution combine to threaten the future of Lake Toba, one of the world’s most beautiful freshwater lakes.

At 100 kilometres long, the lake is the largest is South East Asia and one of the deepest and highest in the world, being 905 m above sea level. Culturally the lake and the island of Samosir are important heritage areas for the Batak people who live in North Sumatra.

Industrial pollution

In particular the paper industry is harming the environment. Indorayon’s paper mill, known as Toba Pulp Lestari, is a major polluter and is hotly opposed by local environmental pressure groups. Other hazards are illegal logging, widespread use of chemical fertilizers and unregulated grazing and burning.

>How the forest round Lake Toba is being restored

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