Investor Not to Destroy Mangrove Forest

DENPASAR

The Bali administration has vowed to tightly supervise PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari, the private company endowed with the right to manage 102.2 hectares of mangrove forest in Suwung, Denpasar. The administration guaranteed that the private investor would not destroy the forest.

“The investor will use the natural mangrove forest as the main attraction for its business. So, I guarantee that it will not destroy the environment. If it destroys the environment, it means that it will have committed suicide,” Bali administration’s spokesperson I Ketut Teneng told Bali Daily on Monday.

The governor’s decision to issue a permit to the private company has met with growing opposition from activists, councilors and environmentalists, who fear that the private company will damage the precious forest. They demanded the governor revoke his decision.

The permit, issued in June, gives the company the right to manage the designated area, which is part of south Bali’s 1,375 hectares of mangrove forest, for 55 years. From a legal point of view, the governor did not breach any regulations since the designated area is inside the utilization zone, the Forestry Ministry’s term for forested areas that could be developed for commercial use under strict supervision from the authorities so as not to destroy its ecological richness.

Curiously, the details of what the private company would actually do with the forest, which had been designated and developed by the provincial administration as a tourist attraction for years, are still sketchy. The only detail that has been revealed is that it would build 75 temporary wooden gazebos for accommodation and a restaurant in the area, which would also be opened up for fishing and water sports.

“The company has only been given the rights to build tourism infrastructure based on the site plan that has been officially approved by the government and was guided by the regulations,” Teneng stated.

The investor must also implement a number of requirements drawn up by the administration, including financing the beautification of the area, as well as taking responsibility when its activity negatively affects third parties, such as the local population.

“The company also does not have any right to cut down the trees, except with a special permit from the Bali Forestry Agency,” Teneng said.

It is also required to recruit labor from local villages, as well as other Indonesians.

“So, the investor should recruit locals to bring benefits to the local people. Don’t too worry about that,” Teneng said.

Teneng suggested that the rejection was driven by political interests given the fact that the gubernatorial election would take place early next year. Bali Post, the island’s largest daily and Governor Made Mangku Pastika’s nemesis, has continuously run the story on the mangrove forest on its front page.

“The permit was issued to provide a better management system for the forest, because the administration has only a tiny budget to manage and maintain the forest,” he said.

Meanwhile, environmentalists and students who form the Bali working committee on environmental advocacy (Kekal Bali) conveyed their rejection of the mangrove plan Monday before members of the Bali Legislative Council.

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