Even though our reforestation project has been up and running for years, we still need a lot of support in improving the project. To improve the project, a lot of research is still needed. Possible research activities to improve our reforestation project to make sure that our reforestation aim is achieved include, but are not limited to, the following aspects:
To assess the quality of the soil as a growing habitat for Bitti tree, information on the acidity, structure, and composition of the soil needs to be researched. Possible ways to improve the soil quality, such as natural compost selection, compost procedure, and compost composition, needs to be examined. Long-term and periodical soil quality data collection would provide information on how the reforestation project improves or reduces soil quality in the area, how it impacts water retention in the soil, and if and how it prevents erosion.
We have a nursery running to grow Bitti seedlings before planting them in the reforestation ground. We have found that seedling shadowing aids in better growth of the plant on the field. More information and research are needed to improve our ongoing nursery to have a better timber quality in the future.
Planting procedure also needs to be improved and scientifically approached. For example, research is needed to determine proper density of the planted trees to achieve optimal growth. The researched information on optimal distance between the trees may also help in proper designing of the landscape to enable harvesting and human access in the future when the trees have formed a forest. Selection of other trees that do not have a negative impact on the growth of the main stand, the Bitti trees, for co-planting also needs to be assessed. The co-planted trees could be crop or medicinal plants, provided they are compatible with Bitti trees and are not invasive.
As the reforestation is still in its infancy, it is a good research site to assess long-term impact of the reforestation on the ecology of the reforestation site. This may include vegetational aspects as well as the gradual presence of birds and animals.
One of the aim of the reforestation project is to improve the quality of life of local villagers who have suffered due to large area of barren land and water scarcity in the area. The idea is to provide a sustainable income for local people and induce water retention in the soil by reforestation. Therefore, the reforestation project is not just an environmental project, but a socio-economic one as well. Hence, social activities to provide education to local villagers about the benefit of reforestation and how to plant the trees is needed. A long-term research and data collection on the socio-economic impact of the reforestation project on local villagers would be beneficial as a referral data for reforestation projects in other areas in Indonesia in particular, and the world in general. A platform on the communal utilisation of timber, both as firewood and later boat construction material, needs to be designed, implemented, monitored, and evaluated to optimise the benefit for the local people.