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Indonesian helps orchids bloom again

Farmer Musimin is on a one-man mission to save the exotic flowers unique to the land on the outskirts of Yogyakarta.

With orchids in hand and a bamboo ladder on his shoulder, farmer Musimin scans the forest at the foot of Indonesia’s most active volcano to identify clusters of native flowers he’s been saving for years.

The 56-year-old, who goes by one name like many Indonesians, is a self-taught conservationist with no formal background in botany.

He has devoted his career to cultivating plants he likens to gemstones, and has been on a one-man mission to save the exotic flowers unique to the country on the outskirts of Yogyakarta on Java Island.

His work began after lava and ash ripped through the area from the powerful eruptions of Mount Merapi, the last major in 2010.

“I remember orchids used to be abundant in the forest,” he said.

“The locals from surrounding villages could take any orchid they wanted, and they sold the flowers at nearby tourist destinations.”

But many were destroyed by the ash clouds that fell on land beneath the volcano.

So he started to save their withering fortunes by building two bamboo greenhouses over the years where he could keep the most extraordinary varieties of orchids.

About 60 people died in the eruption in 1994, destroying thousands of hectares of forest.

Another eruption in 2010 killed more than 300 people and destroyed the country.

Musimin usually works alone and wants those who go into the forest to let the orchids bloom instead of trying to take advantage of

Musimin usually works alone and wants those who go into the forest to allow the orchids to bloom rather than try to take advantage of them.

“The forest near my house had burned dry and the orchids I used to easily find were gone. I regretted not keeping one or two,” Musimin said of the 1994 tragedy.

That encouraged him to join the local government’s efforts to find the remaining orchids while he and his neighbors explored what was left.

They managed to revive at least 90 orchid species that would also survive the 2010 eruption, he said.

‘Pioneer of orchid conservation’

Now Musimin mostly works alone and wants those who go into the forest to let the orchids bloom instead of trying to take advantage of them.

“A lot of people now choose to pick orchids from the forest and sell them. Personally, I think the orchids are better off in their habitat, where they can live like the crowns of the forest,” he said.

Other orchid centers run by locals who learned about conservation from Musimin have sprung up in the forest surrounding the volcano, Mount Merapi National Park spokesman Akhmadi said.

“He is indeed the pioneer of orchid conservation on Mount Merapi. His work has become an example for other groups we work with who have followed and developed his programs,” he said.

With others taking charge of Musimin, the father-of-two wants to continue his orchid-saving legacy by passing on his self-taught botanical knowledge to his grandchild, whom he often takes to the forest.

“I show him orchids as early as possible,” he said.

“Who knows, he might be my successor.”


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© 2022 AFP

Quote: ‘Crowns of the forest’: Indonesian helps orchids bloom again (2022, September 18) retrieved September 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-crowns-forest-indonesian-orchids-bloom.html

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