Development and Planting

And then you will find at Pole 3 a small path to the boundary. There you will find our concession. Go tomorrow


People in Indonesia in those days used few words to order tasks. So, the young employee climbed on his horde, rode the unpaved forest path to Pole 3, and found the path, and indeed found after some searching a small hill, just about 2 meters high with a white painted stone with a number of the government. It was the boundary of the concession of several hundred hectares of jungle. In the middle there was an excellent source – a good place to build a house and live.

A small group of about 20 Indonesian had travelled with the young employee and within a few days several huts were build from bamboo and leaves. These were strong enough to withstand the tropical rains. The source provided water; the jungle gave meat and vegetables. Thus life sprang up in the jungle. Such a new exploration normally would attract lots of people – developers, who move from project to project. Such people don’t need much comfort, they are clever in the ‘science of the jungle’; skilled at making something from nothing. Normally, within a week there is a group of about a hundred people, mostly using their own tools, machete and axe.

The first task of the developer is mark the land. In the 19th century the Rhineland Roe was used. It used a measurement of 3.79 meters. Later, with the implementation of the decimal system that became 4 meters. Blocks of 20 by 20 meter were developed. The men with machete and axe in front. The employee with his geometry set in the rear. He used his ‘equerre’ to make sure that he lines were drawn straight. The 20 meter positions were marked first with poles and then with a straight growing type of palm tree: the Hanjouwang. This process continued to achieve blocks of 100 by 100 meters all neatly marked by poles, later replaced by palm trees and little mounds of white stones. Thus a whole area was neatly organised into squares.
The next task was to cut all small plants, trees and shrubs. Then the giants of the jungle were cut; trees that could grow up to 60 meters high. It was critical to make sure these trees would fall and end up on the ground in the direction of the slope of the mountain. This would prevent damaging falls down the slope later due to rain or movements in the ground.

Next is the cleaning and cutting of all the branches of the trees. One can’t simply clear the land by setting fire to the wood. Jungle fires could destroy hundreds of thousands of acres, and damage the top soil. So, the wood has to be cut up, organised, sorted for future construction projects. A small fire is lit only to burn the last remaining branches. That fire is carefully managed by lots of men with branches.
And then finally there it is, the fertile ground, lying there inviting cultivation.

Then the infrastructure needs to be build: roads, gutters, water channels, terrassing. At the same time the soil is prepared. The most difficult challenge there is to make sure that the most fertile topsoil remains at the top. When all is ready planting can start, if there are plants….