Governor Made Mangku Pastika used the visit to Bali of the Deputy Minister for the Environment to share his views on a number of issues facing the island's ecosystem. As reported in the Bali Post, Pastika told the Deputy Minister for Education, Communication and Public Participation within the Environmental Agency, Sudariyono, that the island's jungles are diminishing, its lakes and rivers are drying up, air pollution worsens as the number of vehicles continue to increase, and water tables are being depleted by large industry.
Complained the Governor: "Ideally, 30% of every area (in Bali) should be reserved for jungle. Although, in reality, only 22% of the island remains in a jungle state."
Bali's Chief Executive went on to explain that each year around 1,000 hectares of farm land is converted from its agricultural function. Meanwhile, economically disadvantaged island residents living at higher altitudes practice unregulated deforestation. Adding, "people must be made to realize that this irresponsible exploitation of nature has grave consequences and endangers us all."
Calling for stricter enforcement of the law, Governor Pastika said, "those destroying the environment should have to pay large fines with the proceeds from those fines being used to repair the environment." Sudariyono endorsed the Governor's sentiments, promising to work more closely with related relevant agencies in Bali, such as the Environmental Department and the Regional Research Center for the Environment. Sudariyono concluded his comments by saying: "No matter how you look at it, Bali is a part of Indonesia known to the entire world and the preservation of its natural environment is an absolute requirement."
Awards are Nice, But . . .
The Governor also used the occasion to focus on the role and importance of environmental awards presented each year by the Government. According to Pastika, while such awards are a good thing, they do not necessarily represent an effective contribution towards solving Bali's many environmental problems. Explaining himself, Governor Pastika said, "this does not mean that I am denigrating the presentation of awards, but we need something (more) concrete in efforts to save the environment." Bali's newly elected governor said he wants to see award winners demonstrate a responsibility for their recognition by using the prestige for even greater environmental preservation in the future.
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