Nature-deficit Disorder 1
Today's post was not sparked by the supplement in today's Jakarta Post
informing its readers that apparently today is World Environment Day. We all know that tomorrow will be a return to Couldn't Give A Shit Every Other Day.
It wasn't sparked either by the withdrawal of Sarwono Kusumaatmadja
from Jakarta's gubernatorial election on the grounds that the big political party money, or should I say, the political parties big money, is with Fauzi Bodoh
. Sarwono was Suharto's last Minister of the Environment and in spite of his apologia
for the economic excesses of the Suharto regime, is known as Mr Clean and Mr Simple for his modest lifestyle. Sarwono has close relationship with grassroot movements and the poorest in the city.
(He) is a pluralist campaigner and has good relationship with non-Moslem society.
Ah, the grassroots, the smell of newly-mown lawns. Yes, this post was sparked by something my good friend the Reveller
told me on Sunday. Rather than from his usual haunts of smoky drinking dens, he had just returned from a training course in Puncak, the wealthy Jakartans' weekend retreat in the hills.
"You can smell the air," he told me.
And I thought that it would be more than nice to do the same, and soon. Except that without the wherewithal to withdraw from the city, somewhere closer to home is needed. And, of course, there isn't anywhere.
I haven't had a chance to peruse the Jakarta Green Map
, but it's a reasonable assumption that much of the green space shown back in 2004 isn't there now.
Mind you, by all accounts, including this one
, it's much the same elsewhere.
When I was a lad, growing up in Blackheath in southeast London, we had a front and back garden. Every year we'd pick a veritable cornucopia of fruits grown in the back garden: blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, rhubarb and varieties of apples which can no longer be found in supermarkets. One of my chores was to cut the front hedgerow, to weed the flower beds and to mow the lawn, all in full view of passing pedestrians.
I don't know who lives there now but the house was on television a month or so ago as the London Marathon passed by. The front garden I knew intimately is now a paved parking place.Britain's 15m or so gardens have, in recent years, been recognised as vital oases for wildlife, a refuge from a countryside that has been systematically depleted of much of its biodiversity. Their function as part of a network of green spaces, corridors along which plants and animals can travel, is especially important.
Yet ....... in London alone, an area of front gardens equivalent to the area of 22 Hyde Parks is now under paving, while back gardens are being paved, decked or sold for development at an alarming rate.
It's not that many generations ago that there were green spaces throughout Jakarta.
It can take 30 minutes to get through this road junction today.
It's a fair assumption that the majority of those living in Jakarta have a kampung
they can return to elsewhere in Indonesia, which they do at Idul Fitri, the end of the Muslim fasting month. Their journeys home afford views of fields and clusters of houses sheltering amid clumps of remaining rainforest, coconut palms and banana trees.
What can we city dwellers do to recapture our roots?
All and any concrete suggestions, links and comments welcome.
(Should I be asking for 'natural' suggestions?)
Labels: urban nature