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500-Mile Trek for Environment Has Unusual Twist

Indonesia's Medi Bastoni will be doing it backward, with the help of a rearview mirror
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2019 9:55 AM CDT
Mount Wilis is pictured in 2017.   (Wikimedia/Novi Batari)

(Newser) – He's walking backward for a month in the hope of moving forward with forest conservation. The Guardian has the story of Medi Bastoni, an Indonesian man who set out Thursday to walk 500 miles in reverse from his village of Dono in East Java to the State Palace in Jakarta to raise awareness about reforestation efforts on Java's Mount Wilis. The 43-year-old father of four—who sports an apparatus that holds a rearview mirror, allowing him to see behind his back—plans to trek more than 18 miles a day, purchase food from street vendors, and sleep at mosques and police stations before arriving in Jakarta for Indonesia's 74th independence day on Aug. 17. There, Bastoni seeks a meeting with President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi.

If Bastoni gets that chance—and it doesn't seem a far stretch since the environmentalist says he's making the trek in part to "look back" on the "service of heroes who have fought for our nation" and to honor "what Jokowi has done for us"—he'll ask the president for a tree seed to be planted at the foot of Mount Wilis, per Vice. The environment surrounding the volcanic mountain is being regenerated after deforestation and forest fires. But Bastoni believes Widodo's direct support—in the form of a tree named after the president—would encourage others to get involved. "Not only me, people on the slopes of Wilis and the younger generation, all must care about the nature of Wilis," he says, per the Guardian. "I hope that everyone is involved." (Read more Indonesia stories.)

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