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Trees, Humans, and Birth

Sahendaruman protected forest (Photo: Burung Indonesia/Ganjar C. Aprianto)

Trees are an important aspect of life. Apart from being a home and food source for biodiversity, trees also provide life support and hope for humans. This is what the residents of Ulung Peliang Village, in Tamako District, Sangihe Islands Regency, North Sulawesi Province, believe.

The relationship between the tree and the local community can be seen in the origin of the village's name. Peliang means "forbidden" in the local language. In the past, the ancestors forbade people to cut down peli trees or forbidden trees. However, the ancestors did not mention the type of tree in question. It is said that the prohibited tree is in the upstream or ulu area, which is the location of Ulung Peliang Village today.

This makes people afraid to cut down trees carelessly, worried if the tree is a peli tree. The community believes that the dotu deliberately do not tell the type of peli wood in question, to protect the preservation of the forest.

For the Ulung Peliang community, the relationship between humans and trees begins in infancy. When a baby is born, parents will usually plant a tree as a reminder and marker of their child's age. Trees that are usually recommended to be planted are coconut or sago trees. However, people are also allowed to plant nutmeg and clove trees or fruit trees such as mango and durian. The growth of the child will go hand in hand with the growth of the tree. Not only a reminder, the existence of children and trees is also expected to be able to flourish and provide benefits.

In addition to the moment of birth, parents will also plant trees again when their children are three to four years old. At this age, the child will be invited to the tree planting site while carrying the tree seedlings to be planted. Parents tell their children that the tree is theirs and must be taken care of.

In addition to being a marker of age, the Ulung Peliang community also uses trees as savings. Trees planted by parents with their children will be given when the child is married. Usually, the inheritance prepared is in the form of gardens and trees that have been planted since long ago.