UCA News
Contribute

Actions not words from grower priest

Green-fingered clergyman has planted three million saplings
Actions not words from grower priest
Father Marcelinus Agot SVD among the trees he has planted
Published: September 22, 2011 07:44 AM GMT
Updated: September 22, 2011 08:02 AM GMT

Father Marcelinus Agot has a personal motto: “if you want to save the environment, start by saving it yourself.” It’s a motto he has certainly lived up to, as he has now planted an astonishing three million trees around the islands of Manggarai, western Flores. His efforts began in the 1990s as he saw countless forest areas on these naturally rich and beautiful islands turned into barren lands by the remorseless march of mining and logging contractors. The deforestation rapidly brought landslides, erosion and floods in its wake. The 61-year-old Divine Word priest started his efforts to redress the balance by buying two plots of land in Labuan Bajo, the capital of West Manggarai. On them he planted 13 different types of trees, including mahogany and local species such as narra. “I chose local trees as they were in danger of disappearing in their own land,” he says. He went on to plant 5,000 trees on another plot, which he has now entrusted to the Institute of Teacher Education. And he has kept on planting ever since. Besides preserving the environment, and as an unexpected bonus, his efforts have resulted in the emergence of several new wellsprings amid the newly established plantations. Lotus flowers have been planted in the first of them, which is developing into a small river. People around the other wellsprings now use them for their daily water needs. “The emergence of the springs really moved me. This is such a precious blessing as it is very difficult to get fresh water here,” he says. The work of Father Marcelinus has made him a well known character, with support from every quarter. Florianus Adu, who heads the People’s Movement for Anti-Mining, says, “he sets an example for local people and government, and reminds them of the importance of planting trees to save the land.” Zakarias Samuel Sem of the Swisscontact development agency says, “Father Marcelinus has encouraged young people to pay serious attention to the environment. Even the local tourist management body has made him its counselor.” Father Marcelinus accepts these plaudits with modesty. “I owe everything to the generosity of local people who wanted to join me in making this place green,” he says.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia