The worsening condition of the environment around the Indonesian city of Balikpapan has prompted local authorities to introduce a "green" system – as they call it – of granting fiancées wedding certificates, and birth certificates to new parents. In order for these people to get what they want, they first have to plant a tree somewhere near the city. Only afterwards will city officials consider their demands.
This drastic approach to saving the environment was brought forth by the fact that heavy mining in the area considerably reduced the forest spreads in the region, and they are constantly reducing even now.
The timber industry also plays an important role in deforestation, as unsustainable exploitation caused the country's wooded surfaces to drop by approximately 350,000-500,000 ha (865,000-1.24 million acres) annually. Though Indonesia still has some 90 million hectares of forests left, they are bound to "run out" sooner or later, so authorities in this small town came up with a plan to tackle that.
"Everyone who wants to get married or apply for a birth certificate must plant a tree. The city's condition is already worrying, and we must act to tackle global warming," explained the head of the Environmental Impact Management Agency, Syahrum Syah Setia.
The initiative, though it may seem a bit harsh, is an excellent step forward towards reducing the carbon footprint that the city leaves on the environment. The news from Indonesia adds to the reports that recently came from Macedonia, where thousands of people planted more than 6 million trees in a single day.
Unfortunately, such direct actions can rarely be seen today, even in the most developed countries around the globe. Engineers are so busy building new power plants, wind farm and geothermal facilities, that they forget that the forests are the real "lungs" of the Earth, and, as such, need to be taken care of.