Academics call for new independent conservation fund

by Luh De Suriyani on 2013-07-01

Prominent academics and environmentalists have called for increased accountability and independent funding to preserve and conserve the island, which currently faces massive environmental problems.

In a discussion on Bali’s environment, organized jointly by Conservation International (CI) Indonesia and the Udayana University’s Center for Cultural and Environmental Studies last weekend, I Ketut Sarjana Putra, executive director of CI, insisted that Bali must start to develop its own conservation funding mechanism.

“This is very important action to save Bali from experiencing further natural destruction,” Putra said.

Bali was now experiencing serious environmental problems, including issues related to trash, land, coastal degradation, water and food shortages, and uncontrolled development programs, as well as a swelling population, he said.

“There are no real actions to identify the real need for conservation funding to save Bali’s nature and culture,” he went on.

Putra said Bali actually had traditional wisdom that must be adopted in the current situation. “Our ancestors already adopted conservation efforts,” he said.

Warna kertih literary refers to forest landscape conservation; danu kertih to water, river, agricultural sites, and riverbed conservation; segara kertih to coastal and marine conservation; while jana and atma kertih mean capacity building to manage Bali’s natural capital.

“All of these highly valuable concepts were practiced for centuries to protect Bali in the past. More importantly, it was human beings that needed to act on those concepts, as referred to by the concept of jana and atma kertih,” he said.

He cited an exemplary model enacted on the Galapagos Islands. Anybody visiting the island must pay US$100 as an entrance fee upon landing there. Visitors must also pay a $48 footprint fee upon entering the Galapagos National Park.

Putra said he was part of the team that proposed the Galapagos fund initiative. The fees are distributed to the national park management (40 percent) and the municipality (25 percent).

Another example is Raja Ampat in West Papua, where visitors are required to pay $50, for foreigners, and $25, for locals, as a dive fee.

The revenue is distributed to the Raja Ampat administration (40 percent) and the Raja Ampat conservation management and local communities.

The fees also finance community improvement programs, such as nutrition and lactation programs for pregnant and breast-feeding women and health facilities for local residents who live in the isolated area. The funds also go toward protecting the bird of paradise breeding site.

“Bali needs to replicate such a system if we want to conserve the island’s nature and culture,” Putra said.

Agung Suryawan Wiranatha, head of the center, explained that his institution had conducted research and a number of studies on the negative impact of mass tourism and uncontrolled development.

Together with Made Antara, professor of environment at Udayana University, Wirantha had also carried out a survey on the willingness to pay for conservation efforts in Nusa Penida islet in Klungkung regency.

The survey, conducted in 2011 using the contingent valuation method (CVM), involved 100 respondents — 50 locals and 50 foreigners.

The survey revealed that 45 percent of domestic and 67 percent of foreign visitors would be willing to pay conservation fees.

“The survey showed that foreigners were mostly eager to contribute to conservation,” he said.

However, the challenges came from the local tourist industry, including the Association of Indonesian

Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA) and Gahawisri (the Indonesian Marine Tourism Association in Bali).

“They told us they would prefer not to charge tourists additional fees,” he said.

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