[Voice] WWF Japan: Lights Shine for People Living with the Forest

2016.11.02 Voices

We've received a report from WWF Japan (World Wide Fund for Nature Japan), which is dedicated to conserving forests on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The 60 solar lanterns that supported the "Earth Hour" event in Yokohama in March 2016 are now being used during nighttime patrols around Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park and in evening environmental classes at nearby schools.


This is Shinichi Kawae of WWF Japan.
The solar lanterns donated by Panasonic are now being used to protect the forests of Sumatra and the livelihoods of the people. Here is a message from the people of the island.

Lanterns used during patrols to return wild animals to the forest

Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world and boasts some of the world's richest biodiversity, which thrives in the island's vast tropical rainforests. However, Sumatra's forests have been shrinking rapidly in the past hundred years. Trees have been cut down for things like pulp and paper production, palm oil production, and mine development, while many rare wildlife species have been driven from their habitats and forced to the brink of extinction.

Many unfortunate incidents are also occurring between man and wildlife. In the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in the southern part of the island, elephants and tigers have damaged homes and fields of neighboring villages, so they are being killed by local residents, labeled as pests.

WWF supports patrols by local residents to prevent such incidents. Come harvest season, farmers climb towers set up in their fields to keep watch for animal intrusions during the night. Should an elephant appear, they scare it back to the forest with fireworks and blank shots. The solar lanterns were distributed to groups responsible for these nighttime patrols and are now being used by them.


A patrol leader Mr. Warsono said, "The headlights we used before were expensive to operate because they drain batteries quickly." Since the arrival of the solar lanterns, he has been very happy as the watch tower and its surroundings are lit brightly and there is no cost for fuel.

Lanterns also used for children's environmental education

The solar lanterns are also used at three elementary schools near the national park where WWF supports education for sustainable development (ESD). Principal Harris of Karangrejo Elementary School comments, "The lanterns are used when the students read the Koran during their evening after school classes or during frequent blackouts."

At Datarajan Elementary School, solar lanterns are set up in each class and children use them to learn about clean energy that does not emit carbon dioxide. At Sukamaju Elementary School, solar lanterns are discussed as a topic to teach students about the importance of electricity and renewable energy. Teachers also use them at night to prepare for classes the next day.


Solar lanterns gently light up the future of people living together with nature and we have no doubt that they will continue to help protect the area and help the people grow.