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Swamped with Questions

Growing Controversy Over 55 Year Lease of South Bali's Protected Mangrove Forest

Bali News: Bali, Indonesia, South Bali, Mangrove Forest, Tirta Rahmay Bahari, BPRD-Bali, Gede Nyoman Wiranatha, exploitation, environmental protection
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There are growing questions regarding licenses granted by the province of Bali to a private company to develop South Bali’s proetcted mangrove forest area.

The provincial government of Bali is denying press reports that it has surrendered control of an 102.22-hectare tract of mangrove forest to a private investor.

Quoted by the Indonesian National Press Agency Antara, the head of the forestry department of Bali, I Gede Nyoman Wiranatha, denied on October 6, 2012, that PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari now controlled the mangrove forest areas of south Bali, arguing that the company had only been issued with a principle permission to use 10% of the total mangrove (102.22 hectare) for the development of tourism services for 55 years.

“That which will be developed for tourism services and infrastructure will not be more than 10% of the entire block of land used by PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari. This is in accordance with the rules. Meanwhile, the entire mangrove forest areas measures 1,373 hectares and the area under permit are in the block designated for development’,” explained Wiranatha

He also claims that PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari, contrary to reports in the press, has yet to construct anything within the protected mangrove forest.

Wiranatha said that the mangrove areas was under the complete control of the provincial government of Bali and that PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari had been given a permit to establish a nature tourism enterprise in the Ngurah Rai Mangrove Forest measuring 102.22 hectares.

Defending the province's decision in making the appointment, Wiranatha said that the company and the permits granted met all technical, judicial, conceptual, ecological and cultural criteria.

The large tract of mangrove forests stretching from Sanur to Tanjung Benoa is viewed as environmentally critical, important to the cycle of sea life and as a strategic defense against the threat of tsunami.

Apparently, the entire appointment process for PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari did not include an open and competitive invitation for declarations of interest or a competitive selection process. The negotiation and agreement were also undertaken with no consultation of the Bali Provincial House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali).

The lack of transparency and pre-consultation with the legislative branch is prompting calls from some quarters for the permit granted to PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari to be revoked to ensure that the mangrove forest of South Bali is carefully conserved.

In rebuttal, Wiranatha said: “Those areas that are empty of trees at the Ngurah Rai Mangrove Forest will be used by the company for tourism services such as canoes, fishing ponds and alike. These facilities will not fundamentally change the character of the land. The existing tourism infrastructure, such as trekking trails, will be preserved and improved." 

He emphasized that the joint use under the agreement will allow a sharing of profits, which will be specified later under a joint venture agreement.

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