Local people, NGOs jointly preserve Amed

by Desy Nurhayati on 2013-01-22

Local people and NGOs have been working together on a number of projects to preserve the underwater beauty of Amed and ensure its sustainability as a tourist destination.

Renowned as a popular location for diving and snorkeling, the area, located in Karangasem, is visited by thousands of tourists each year seeking a quiet, relaxed vacation away from the busier destinations of Kuta, Nusa Dua and Sanur.

However, its popularity is also one of its threats. Therefore, Reef Check Indonesia Foundation and the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) have been working with the community in Amed.

“One of the biggest threats to the coral reefs in the Amed region is piles of rubbish,” said Riyan Heri from CORAL.

“Amed is a very dry area, so during the dry season rubbish accumulates along and in the dry river beds. When the wet season comes, the rubbish will be washed away into the bay — choking coral and killing fish, which has a negative impact on tourism,” he said.

Thanks to a micro grant from CORAL, Riyan worked with the local community to install a rubbish trap on the river.

“Using common materials, we constructed a trap made from thick bamboo uprights, net and ropes. We put it upstream of the river mouth and use it to catch the rubbish before it enters the ocean.”

The local community has taken on the responsibility of emptying the trap after it rains. The trap was not a permanent solution, but it was an important community awareness tool, he said.

The activity provides direct experience and understanding for the community about the problems with trash they are currently facing.

In addition to reducing the impact of rubbish on the reefs, other initiatives in Amed are helping protect the reef.

“We have worked with local fishermen to install four mooring buoys,” Riyan said.

The installment of mooring buoys in diving and fishing sites — to encourage people not to anchor on the coral, has also been done with consultation with the boat operators.

Aware about the need to help locals and tourists learn about how they can protect coral reefs, the NGOs and the local people installed a signboard on the seashore.

With illustrated signs in Indonesian, English and French, the signboard informs people about responsible snorkeling and diving.

“It’s simple advice to make sure people are not damaging the coral reef while they are enjoying it,” Riyan said.

Surveys clearly show that the majority of people visit Amed to enjoy its beautiful coral reefs.

If Amed and its people were to benefit from tourism, they needed to make active efforts to conserve and rehabilitate the coral, Derta Prabuning from Reef Check Indonesia Foundation, added.

“We believe the future will be bright for Amed, as long as the community works together to make it happen sustainably,” he said.

“By working together to change their behavior and educate their children, Amed can stay clean and green and the next generation can have a sustainable, secure future here.”

Under the micro-grant project, five signboards have been placed in strategic areas. Brochures and flyers have also been distributed in tourism-related outlets.

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