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The Green Emerald Called Patuha

The thick mist of Mount Patuha is like a curtain hiding the treasure beneath: a mountainous forest landscape rich in biodiversity. Of the 124 bird species that inhabit the area, 19 are endemic and 19 are protected by the government.

Due to the presence of 40 percent of endemic birds to mountain forests in it, Mount Patuha is a miniature that represents the biodiversity of mountain forests in western Java. Besides being rich in bird diversity, this 2,434 mdpl mountain is also home to various species that are on the brink of extinction such as the Javan Leopard (Panthera pardus melas) and the Javan Surili (Presbytis comata).

Not only at ground level, natural resources below the ground of Mount Patuha are also abundant. Its geothermal energy has been used as both a sustainable power plant and a tourist attraction. The Patuha area also functions as a water catchment area and supports water sources for the city of Bandung and its surroundings.

For people around the foot of Mount Patuha, such as residents of Sugihmukti Village, living in an area that has abundant natural resources is a blessing. Their welfare is closely related to the natural resources in the area. The benefits include fertile land for agriculture, clean springs, and ecotourism that they can run. Also, the presence of birds that function as pest population control, which can support the sustainability of local agriculture.

Pengamatan burung di area PT Geo Dipa Energi Unit Patuha (Foto: Burung Indonesia)

The existence of forests in Patuha is very important for the sustainability of geothermal energy sources in the area. So that the natural potential is not lost, conservation efforts are needed. In response to this, Burung Indonesia took a collaborative action with PT Geo Dipa Energi and the Sugihmukti Village Government to preserve biodiversity in the area.

Guna memperbanyak informasi terkait keanekaragaman hayati, potensi alam, dan ancaman habitat di sekitar Patuha, Burung Indonesia bersama dengan PT Geo Dipa Energi Unit Patuha dan warga Sugihmukti melaksanakan kegiatan pemantauan alam di hutan sekitar desa. Melalui kegiatan ini, diharapkan warga Sugihmukti dan pekerja PT Geo Dipa Energi Unit Patuha mampu mengetahui hal-hal yang harus dilakukan agar spesies-spesies burung dan habitatnya dapat terjaga. Semangat untuk menjaga kawasan hutan agar tetap lestari juga muncul dari para pemuda, mereka membentuk kelompok bernama Pasukan Jaga Leuweung (PJL) yang berarti pasukan penjaga hutan. Kelompok ini berperan aktif dalam kegiatan pemantauan lingkungan, mulai dari pengumpulan sampah yang nanti akan disalurkan ke bank sampah, sampai pemantauan burung-burung di hutan desa secara rutin. Hal ini dilakukan semata-mata karena rasa cinta mereka terhadap alam dan menjaga kelestarian kawasan desa.

Geo Dipa Energi and Burung Indonesia also implement a tree nursery program to reforest disturbed forests. A total of 3,000 tree seedlings consisting of 12 endemic tree species were prepared which will later be planted in forest areas.

Being an agricultural village, farmers of Sugihmukti are cultivating coffee and other horticulture plants. Except for coffee, the garden locations are generally near the settlements and relatively close. The coffee farmers do not have basic knowledge about coffee and have been working based on experience. They also face the problem of expensive fertilizers, so they cannot properly fertilize their coffee plants and affect crop productivity. To increase crop productivity, coffee farmers are provided with infrastructure for learning and capacity building in sustainable coffee management.

Composting is a great way to provide plant nutrients. Not only it is cheap and economical because the ingredients are easily obtained from around us, it also reduce the impact of pesticides that will affect the habitat of birds. There are many ways for us to conserve nature and provide a place for birds to fly freely. The vast emerald green forest must be kept undamaged. As long as the treasure behind the curtain at Patuha exists, nature will continue to benefit all beings within it. (Kukuh A. Tohari)