Indonesian man walking 430 miles backwards to save forests

Indonesian man walking 430 miles backwards to save forests

An Indonesian man is walking more than 430 miles backwards from his village in eastern Java to the country’s capital to raise awareness about deforestation.

Medi Bastoni began his arduous expedition on July 18 from his home on the slope of Mount Wilis, a dormant volcano in East Java province that has been affected by deforestation.

The 43-year-old is expected to arrive in the capital, Jakarta, on Friday.

He hopes to meet President Joko Widodo, and ask him to re-plant trees on Mount Wilis and elsewhere.

Medi Bastoni is walking 430-miles backwards from his home in eastern Java to the country’s capital (Achmad Ibrahim/AP)
Medi Bastoni is walking 430-miles backwards from his home in eastern Java to the country’s capital (Achmad Ibrahim/AP)

“I’m doing this to raise people’s awareness of deforestation,” Mr Bastoni told The Associated Press on Thursday when he reached Jakarta’s satellite city of Bekasi, about 13 miles east of the capital.

“I need the president’s support to help reforestation efforts, hand-in-hand with other communities.”

Indonesia for many years has chopped down its rainforests faster than any other country, profiting paper and palm oil conglomerates while causing social and environmental problems.

Rapid forest loss and greenhouse gas emissions have made Indonesia the fourth biggest contributor to global warming after China, the US and India.

Medi Bastoni hopes to raise awareness of deforestation (Achmad Ibrahim/AP)
Medi Bastoni hopes to raise awareness of deforestation (Achmad Ibrahim/AP)

This is not Mr Bastoni’s first backwards walk.

The father of four completed a 45-mile walk last year from East Java’s town of Tulungagung to the peak of Mount Wilis in a similar effort to raise awareness about deforestation.

Mr Bastoni has attached a rearview mirror to his rucksack that helps him avoid bumping into objects along his way.

He walks at least12 to 18 miles a day and sleeps in mosques or police stations along the way.

In many cities and villages, cheering supporters offered him meals, drinks or a place to overnight.

He failed his target of reaching the capital a day before Indonesia’s Independence Day on August 17 due to a swollen leg that forced him to rest for a few days.

Initially, he was scheduled to attend the ceremony at the presidential palace.

“I hope I can touch the heart of Pak Jokowi to start the re-green effort by giving me a tree,” Mr Bastoni said, referring to the popular name of the president.

- Press Association

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