Everyone involved in Bali, and Jakarta, in shepherding the process of Bali’s subak system to be recognised with world heritage status deserves credit. UNESCO has now listed the stunning ricefields that are irrigated using Bali’s traditional system as such.
This is a positive development on several fronts, but most importantly in terms of preserving Bali’s under-threat landscape that has existed for centuries. Tourism-driven overdevelopment in the south of Bali is encroaching on farmers’ fields, moving ever northwards and imperilling the intrinsic fabric of this island, the underlying reason people come here to visit.
Amid current concerns about the loss of traditional life in Bali and the rapid sale of farmland for tourism accommodation, it is right that international backing has been given to a customary part of Bali that is battling the onslaught of modern mass tourism and the destructive impacts it can have.
The Bali government must now move to protect other parts of the island that are under threat, and the livelihood of the Balinese, not all of whom hanker after a job in tourism. We again urge regents to adhere to Governor I Made Mangku Pastika’s decree banning further construction of hotels and villas, most especially in the overcrowded southern areas.
Under regional autonomy, regents, of course, can do as they please when it comes to the issuance of permits; but they should not do so if it means the landscape will be despoiled or especially in the face of a glut of accommodation, an excess that is sizeable around the island.
Managing the tourism resources – the natural environment, mostly – on this small island of just 5,700 square kilometres – requires collaboration between everyone involved, and at the top level that means those running the regencies. Going it alone is not going to benefit everyone, which should be the ultimate, ongoing goal.
Filed under: Editorial