HOW MUCH BENEFIT TO BATAK SINCE THEY KNEW JESUS FROM EUROPEAN BIBLE SALESMAN.WHAT BATAK LEARN TO BE CHRISTIAN?lies?corruption,careless to their own poor cirtizen?greedy for material? how much the development i batak region since they swapt their culture to the european? or asian wanted to be white men.

Indonesia: promotion of Christian ecology

The slopes around Lake Toba, in North Sumatra, are being reforested by the indigenous Batak Church community


Inter-denominational environmental desk

In 2001 the Communion of Churches in Jakarta – which brings together all mainstream protestant churches in the country – held an important reassessment of its pastoral priorities. It decided to give more attention to conservation and creation – and to focus on the creation of an Environmental Desk, working with all major churches, through which environmental information and education resources are disseminated. To achieve this, it is working with ARC and the World Bank as sponsors and advisors.


Practical projects

The initiative was quickly taken up by the indigenous HKBP Batak Church of North Sumatra

, who appointed an environmental officer in the town of Taratung. The officer is responsible for developing a consciousness about the environment within the church, by focusing on issues like deforestation and soil erosion with which its members can easily engage. The Batak church has three million members and 960 pastors.

The Toraja Church of South Sulawesi has started working on similar projects. It is planning to work with the Ministry of Forestry on reforestation of heavily logged lands, as well as on replacing mono-planted pine forests with a range of tree species. The church’s aim is to re-awaken traditional and religious values about the environment through education, prayer and the authority of the local clan leaders.

Advent and ecology

In 2002 and 2003 the World Bank, through ARC, funded a booklet titled ‘Advent and Ecology’. The core text was written by ARC and translated and adapted by a working party at the Jakarta Theological College. The handbook highlights Christian teachings on a range of environmental topics and is designed for preaching and teaching during Advent – the four weeks running up to Christmas – with the intention of inspiring people to undertake practical activities to improve their world.

The booklet has been distributed through the Communion of Churches of Indonesia to Christian radio stations, religious correspondents from all major newspapers, heads of all Christian theological colleges and all the main Protestant denominations. Take-up by secular and religious media was greater than anticipated and led to weekly features on Christian radio stations as well as the production of sermon notes through two of the Church networks. The Communion of Churches, encouraged by the response, has extended plans for the Environment Desk to include regular production of liturgical study material on Christianity and Ecology.

>Multi-faith ecology in Indonesia

Batak Church forestry in Sumatra

Erosion due to loss of tree cover threatens the future of the beautiful volcanic Lake Toba, and its central island Samosir

This project, led by the indigenous Batak Church, is restoring forests to the hillsides around Lake Toba and on Samosir Island, to combat soil erosion and water scarcity that is especially severe during the dry seasons. The erosion is largely due to intentional burning of vegetation by local people, to make way for grassland for their free-roaming buffaloes and goats, and to cultivate food crops. The clearing of land has increased as local people have less alternative livelihoods due to much reduced tourism-related activities around Lake Toba.

The Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) Church is the largest Lutheran Church in Asia, with nearly 3,000 mainly rural congregations amounting to 3 million members in the Batak country of North Sumatra.


At 100 kilometres long, the lake is the largest is South East Asia and one of the deepest and highest in the world, being 905 m above sea level

environment of Lake Toba under threat

In Sumatra, as elsewhere in South East Asia, the environment is under siege from heavy industry and poor land management. The effects of forest clearance, over-farming, soil erosion, mining, and industrial waste pollution combine to threaten the future of Lake Toba, one of the world’s most beautiful freshwater lakes.

At 100 kilometres long, the lake is the largest is South East Asia and one of the deepest and highest in the world, being 905 m above sea level. Culturally the lake and the island of Samosir are important heritage areas for the Batak people who live in North Sumatra.

Industrial pollution

In particular the paper industry is harming the environment. Indorayon’s paper mill, known as Toba Pulp Lestari, is a major polluter and is hotly opposed by local environmental pressure groups. Other hazards are illegal logging, widespread use of chemical fertilizers and unregulated grazing and burning.

>How the forest round Lake Toba is being restored

Restoring the forest round Lake Toba



The community response

Sorting cloves after the harvest

The indigenous Batak Church is campaigning alongside other church denominations and traditional Batak leaders to inspire local people to protect and restore the forests and the lake through replanting and organic technique. THe first sites for replanting are in the districts of North Tapanuli and Samosir. Seedlings have been planted in a 100 hectare are where erosion, water scarcity and forest burning are the most severe. Additional planting is being carried out in the grounds of selected Batak churches and schools, and on church forest lands.

Organic techniques

Organic farming techniques have been integrated into the replanting programme under the direction of the Director of the Reforestation programme, an agronomist and four field staff. THey are supported by the Batak Church and their high visibility advocacy work against businesses putting untreated waste into rivers and lakes. Another important part of the project is awareness-raising and education in the local community.

Reintroducing local species

A tree nursery has been set up by the Batak Church at Sipholon, cultivating a range of trees including:

Timber trees:
Toona sureni and Mahogany
Fruit trees:
jackfruit, avocado, palm, and durian
Mixed planting:
Dipterocarpaceae, Fagaceae (beech), Quercus (oak), and Castanea (chestnut), Lithocarpus (tanoak), Lauraceae (laurels, including cinnamon and avocado), Litsea, Cunoniaceae, Monimiaceae, Magnoliaceae and Hamamelidaceae.



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