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Story Publication logo March 12, 2021

The Sabuai Indigenous People Restore the Forest Through Sasi (bahasa Indonesia)

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Aerial view of a mangrove forest in Sofifi, North Maluku province, Indonesia.
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The Sabuai Indigenous Community performs the traditional Sasi Pohon ritual in the Sabuai State Forest. Image provided by Christ Jacob Belseran.

The mouth of Nickodemus Ahwalam (60) seemed to mutter. His shoulders were slightly bent in respect. Legs crossed around the tree while burning the flames emanating from the resin. Around him, a number of men can be seen wearing karanunu or beaver cloths tied to their heads.

"I pray to Upu Lanite (God) and our ancestors to protect our forest and also these trees," he said.

Nickodemus is the chairman of Saniri, or the traditional leaders in Petuanan Negeri Sabuai, a village in Siwalalat District, East Seram Regency, Maluku.

"We have made this customary ritual so that companies do not have to cut wood carelessly," he said in mid-December 2020.

Some time ago the citizens of this country had a conflict with a nutmeg plantation company, CV Sumber Berkat Makmur (SBM). Even though it has been prohibited from cutting down forests in sacred forests, the company still clears them.

Read the full story in bahasa Indonesia on Mongabay's website.

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