The story of Babakan Siliwangi Forest Walk goes a long way back, although the Forest Walk itself has been around for only less than three months. I won’t go in length here to tell the story, but anyone living in Bandung knows that Babakan Siliwangi (Baksil) has become one of the most disputable areas in Bandung, concerning building rights and ownership status. Being about the only forest in a dense urban area that is gradually being cramped by concrete buildings, roads and automobiles, it naturally becomes our concern to protect it. The concern becomes more intense upon knowing that a developer plans to build multi-stories apartment, a restaurant, and so on. The struggle goes on, especially since the municipal government seems to take on the developer’s side instead of ours.
Therefore it was such an opportunity when about 1300 children and youths from 120+ countries gathered in Bandung for the TUNZA event in September 2011, held by The Indonesian Ministry of Environment (KLH) and The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). The venue was SABUGA conference hall, which is actually located within the Baksil area, so it was relatively easy to grab the attention of whoever attended and/or covered the event to the preservation of Baksil forest. Partnering with KLH, Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF) therefore made sure that the following important events happened during TUNZA: the launching of Baksil as The World City Forest, the opening of Baksil Forest Walk, and the declaration of Urban Farming Global Network. Why are these things important? They somehow validated the existence of Baksil as a city forest that needs to be conserved, voiced by the world’s young generations, who are going to face the consequences of what we do today.
Here’s a video that shows a glimpse of BCCF contribution to the TUNZA event.
Back to the Forest Walk. It’s such a shame if you lived in Bandung, especially in the Northern part, and had never experienced the Walk. It was build at the height of the trees, so one doesn’t walk below the trees, next to the roots on the ground, but at the level of the trees’ huge branches, leaf crowns and the hanging, curtain-like roots. The Walk was built without disrupting any tree, giving way for them to keep living and growing by providing holes wherever necessary.
I took our kids to the Walk in separate times. Getting back home, Dhanu (10) who read about the fact (at info boards placed along the Walk) that Baksil is a habitat for various animals, especially birds, right away designed a birdhouse for the birds that live in the forest. Lindri (8), who was very much impressed by her surroundings, spontaneously exclaimed, “I wish these trees could stay forever”.
Her wish, I’m sure, also belongs to a lot of people who live and breathe the air of Bandung. Baksil is among a few green sites in the city that provide us with oxygen, and whoever plans to demolish these sources must be ignorant of common human rights to have access to clean air and water. Baksil Forest Walk is a design that serves as a form of protest, to show what people actually want and need, as opposed to what the government and the developer have planned. Let’s just hope that the Walk stays intact, or even grows bigger, and that people can take care of it: keeping it clean, safe and comfortable. Let’s express our care for the site by enjoying the space, making it our playground – like HUB!, a community that concentrates on having fun activities at Baksil, does.
Save. Babakan. Siliwangi.