Fighting for ecological justice

Kalpataru 2024 for Rukmini 

Kaoem Telapak’s member from Central Sulawesi, Rukmini Paata Toheke, won the 2024 Kalpataru award. The award is an outcome of consistency in protecting the environment and forest in her village.

The government give Kalpataru awards to individuals or groups for their contribution to preserving the environment. Kalpataru is from the Sanskrit word which means tree of life. “I never dreamed of getting this award,” said Rukmini to Kaoem Telapak on Thursday, May 23 2024.

Based on the Decree of the Minister of Environment and Forestry Number 574 of 2024 concerning Kalpataru Award Recipients, Rukmini received Kalpataru in the environmental development category. Rukmini has started carrying out conservation activities since 1994. She started with a movement to plant banyan trees in Toro Village, Sigi Regency, Central Sulawesi, where she lives. Not only for conservation, banyan planting aims to preserve bark crafts and become a food source for hornbills. “If there are many hornbills, the land will be more fertile,” she said.

Rukmini Paata Toheke, Member of Kaoem Telapak from Central Sulawesi

In 2020, Rukmini initiated the establishment of an Indigenous Peoples School. In the school, Rukmini also instils environmental conservation values to the students. One of the activities, Rukmini involved students in planting banyan trees. To this day, they have planted 200 banyan trees. Currently, Rukmini is trying to advocate for a ban on land sales in her village.

Rukmini said this award encouraged her to continue her work and to motivate others to protect the environment. In her view, She and her colleagues need to deal with several challenges, so that the environment in the area remains sustainable. They need to improve the ancestral code regarding forest management, educate residents about waste management, and open the widest possible market for bark crafters. “So that bark crafters don’t depend solely on the village,” she said.

Rukmini also thanked various parties for the awards she received. “Thank God, all my family and friends who have supported my activities,” concluded Rukmini.