01 January 2013

Bali - again more tourists, and the result?

2012 was a very bad year for Bali.

Beaches, forests, lakes and mountains in Bali have suffered damage over the past year. Beaches have been taken by investors. The lake regions are polluted from agricultural and tourism activities. Similarly, the mountains have been exploited by investors who do not care about the well being of the environment. They have blindly mined the foot of the mountains just for the sake of their personal economy. Another major problem is the exploitation and development of the mangrove and forested areas (Tahura) around Ngurah Rai amounting to approximately 102,22 hectares of damage.

With these conditions, environmentalists and academics have judged that at the end of 2012, Bali is facing an environmental threat and quality of the environment in Bali is getting worse. Head of Environmental Sciences at Udayana University asserts that the realization of the government’s Bali
Clean and Green policy results are still far from expectations. Plastic waste is still not controlled. According to him, the pro-environment program is done half-halfheartedly, so the results are not satisfactory and many environmental problems have not been attended to because of resource constraints, the budget allocation was minimal, and weak monitoring and enforcement of existing violations added to the issue.

Another problem, due to the rapid population growth and increasing size of Bali tourism, was the rampant accommodation and residential development regardless of the environmental capacity of Bali. Based on the studies by the academics, the general status of the capacity of the Bali environment is now sitting at a deficit with a value of 0.6 where it should be ideally sitting at 1. In only four areas, namely Karangasem, Klungkung, Jembrana and Bangli, the capacity status of the land has not been exceeded.

Besides, Bali is also facing the threat of a water crisis. In general, the water carrying capacity of Bali is in deficit with a status value below the carrying capacity of water at 0.87, which is primarily occurring in Badung, Gianyar, Klungkung, Buleleng and Denpasar. Fortunately, Bali has four lakes in the mountains, Lake Buyan, Beratan, Tamblingan, and Lake Batur and the lake water reserves were hoped to help avoid a severe drought. Unfortunately the lakes in Bali are facing serious threats such as sedimentation or siltation, and thus the capacity is declining. In addition, the lakes in Bali are threatened because nutrients are entering them from the surrounding areas. If the four lakes in Bali experienced over siltation it will result in half the water reserves in Bali lost and when all springs are dry Bali will then experience a severe water crisis.

2012 was a bad year for the environment in Bali. Government policies are not independent and are not pro-environment. The government is too pro-investor at the expense of the Bali environment in the pursuit of easy money. The most severe problem is the Tahura mangrove building permits because they are considered very dangerous for the environment. The Tahura permits are contrary to the moratorium on the construction of tourism accommodation issued by the Governor of Bali. In addition, the recent pro-environmental programs initiated by the provincial government of Bali; the Bali Clean and Green, and the Bali Free of Plastic Waste policy were solely for political imagery to further the illusion that leaders in Bali today are pro-environment. The Bali Clean and Green program failed to be implemented because it is not clear how to set up waste
processing infrastructures, and how to setup a convenient public transportation, which would be a safe, fast and cheap way to break up congestion and reduce pollution on the island.

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